K-9 Emergency Response Team Saves a Life

Submitted By

Shawn Metzner
Wisconsin Disaster Medical Response Team - MRC, Wisconsin
October 20, 2014

One of the sure signs that Fall is upon us in the upper Midwest are our beautiful warm days and crisp nights when temperatures drop from the mid – 70’s to the low 30’s in less than 6 hours. This was one of the hazards that members of Wisconsin Disaster Medical Response Team Medical Reserve Corps (WDMRT MRC) and numerous other specialized Search and Rescue teams kept in mind on Sept. 22, 2014 as they moved hastily to find an elderly gentleman that went missing after a late night walk in Wisconsin’s Northwoods almost 24 hours earlier.

The man in his mid- 80’s with some prior medical issues was last seen by his wife around 10:00pm the evening of Sept. 21 as she was getting ready to go to bed. When she awoke early the next day, she discovered that her husband had not returned home from an evening walk. She called 911 and officials launched a large ground, air and water search on a river near their home. WDMRT MRC received a request from its housing organization, K-9 Emergency Response Teams (KERT), for safety and medical support about 5:30pm Sept. 22. The request was for mutual aid to assist the Nicolet Search and Rescue Team and Headwaters Search and Rescue Team who had already been on scene working their resources for several hours.

Upon arrival at the Sheriff’s Command Post, members of KERT and WDMRT MRC would be paired up with these other resources. It was decided by the joint Incident Command to have one of the MRC’s EMT’s deploy with her nationally certified Search and Rescue K-9 partner. Team members agreed that this was a better option at this time than deploying her for back up medical support as the missing man had already spent a night in the woods with temperatures near 32 degrees. Very few clues of the man’s location had been found at this point.

At approximately 9:30pm the KERT/WDMRT MRC member radioed to the command post that she and her K-9 partner found the gentlemen alive and partially stuck in thick marsh grass near a river not far from his home. Another member of WDMRT MRC who had been working his full time job as a local Advanced EMT, took his medical crew and ambulance to the K-9 team’s location to assist with patient care and transport. The elderly gentleman was treated for hypothermia but otherwise was in good condition and was released from the hospital after overnight observation.

Thanks be to God for the man’s rescue. If my K-9 hadn't been there, I'm sure another K-9 on the team assigned to the area would have found him, too, but the timing was critical. I don't believe he would have lasted another night, stated the K-9 handler after the search. This was the third life saved by KERT K-9 teams in the last 11 months.

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