Sarda England trains handlers and dogs in mountain rescue

Sarda England trains handlers and dogs in mountain rescue

An elder statesman of the mountaineering community has been appointed patron of Search and Rescue Dogs Association England.

Hamish MacInnes, renowned for his pioneering work in mountain rescue, agreed to take up the post when asked by association members.

Dr MacInnes, who lives in Glencoe and was formerly team leader of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, initiated the use of search dogs on Britain’s mountains.

A spokesperson for Sarda England said the mountaineer attended a Red Cross search dogs course in Switzerland. “They were training and assessing avalanche search dogs,” the spokesperson said.

“He saw the potential for using dogs to search for lost walkers and climbers within the UK. In December 1964 a training course with mountain rescue members from throughout the UK was held in Glencoe, encouraged by this course, and the potential shown by the dogs.

“A meeting was held in May 1965 and Sarda was formed.”

Sarda initially covered the whole of the UK. By 1971 it had become devolved into Scottish, English and Welsh associations. Further developments led to the modern-day, with the present formation of associations: England, Lake District, Ireland North, Ireland South, Scotland, South Wales, Southern Scotland, Wales and Isle of Man.

Hamish MacInnes

Hamish MacInnes

The spokesperson said of Dr MacInnes’s appointment: “As you can no doubt imagine we are incredibly honoured and grateful for his support.”

Sarda England trains mountain rescue members to operationally handle search dogs as a search resource.

Before the organisation will accept anyone wishing to train their dog to become a search dog, they must have been on the callout list of a recognised mountain rescue or search and rescue team for a minimum of one year, have obtained a letter of support from their team and have ‘bodied’ on national and local training courses – acting as dummy casualties for dogs and handlers to find.

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