Search and rescue dogs are some of the most highly trained animals used by security, rescue and blue light teams. Search and rescue work requires an immense amount from the dog: intelligence, agility, stamina, drive, work ethic, confidence, and the ability to listen and respond to the handler. Not every dog is well suited to this task.
Training a search and rescue dog can take anything from six months to several years, depending on the dog’s ability and aptitude. The most highly trained dogs, used in emergency and military scenarios, are provided with on-going training to ensure they continue to work at the highest level.
Video is becoming an effective tool to enable dog handlers to enhance search and rescue activities. A secure but lightweight video camera, placed on the dog’s head enables handlers to see what the dog sees in real time, meaning that the handler has a better view of a rescued person’s injuries in an earthquake or mountain rescue. It also enables evidence capture in cases such as security breaches, terrorist actions or drug busts.
Wood & Douglas created its Portable All-Terrain Wireless System (P.A.W.S.) to enable search and rescue teams to receive live video of what a rescue dog is seeing. P.A.W.S. includes a video camera that supports low light, high resolution and infra-red ‘day for night’ vision options that can be mounted on the dog’s head. A backpack with battery and antenna is then worn by the dog during operations. Using wireless technology, P.A.W.S transmits video from the dog to the handler who receives it on a small screen that can be secured to the arm or a PC that can record the video from the back of a vehicle.
Despite the fact that the video cameras used on dogs in search and rescue scenarios are lightweight and unobtrusive, dogs can take some time to get used to wearing the kit. It is therefore preferable to incorporate the use of a video camera into the training of the dogs.
In operational scenarios, P.A.W.S uses a COFDM video link. This is a technology that delivers secure, wireless video communications from point to point, significantly reducing multipath effects. Whatever the environment or terrain, from in building to tunnels, COFDM enables clear video transmission from point to point.
Wood & Douglas has now extended the P.A.W.S system to include a Wi-Fi link for dog training, where the additional reach of a COFDM link is not required. Whilst a Wi-Fi connection does not provide the reliability of a COFDM system, it is more cost effective and ideally suited for dog and handler training. P.A.W.S Wi-Fi enables both the dogs and handlers to get used to the system in training scenarios. The dogs become accustomed to wearing a video camera and back pack and the trainers can benefit from a live video feed to help understand the enhancements that video brings to search and rescue.
In addition, in urban environments such as transport hubs (airports, railways and ports), where handlers and dogs are in constant close proximity and will not need the longer range capabilities of a COFDM link, P.A.W.S Wi-Fi provides a lower cost alternative to the full P.A.W.S system, delivering effective live video and recording for evidence over a local secure network. Canine teams trained on P.A.W.S Wi-Fi rapidly adapt to the full system, which is similar in size and weight to the Wi-Fi option.
- Entry level Wi-Fi system for recording video from search and rescue dogs
- Ideal for canine training or localised search and rescue in urban areas