Pasco K-9's training with Coast Guard for helicopter deployments during search and rescue missions
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - The Pasco Sheriff's Office is involved in a one of a kind multi-agency training program. The training sends K-9's high in the sky for specific search and rescue missions.
The K-9 hoist training is done with the Coast Guard, and it's one of the first of its kind in the nation. The partnership with the Pasco Sheriff's Office and the Coast Guard started back in 2020, allowing them to utilize their training facility to grow its urban search and rescue program.
Some of the scenarios the K-9's can be hoisted into with the Coast Guard include natural disasters. They are also training for inland and woodland search and rescue missions.
"The bottom line is they can find things that we cannot find, and they can find things in a timely manner," Jimmy Hall, the K-9 program training manager for the Pasco Sheriff's Office said. "And when you're discussing search and rescue, finding someone in a timely manner is the difference between a search and rescue and a search and recovery."
The K-9 team said Pasco has large state parks in the area where people can get lost and that can sometimes include areas only accessible by helicopter.
The Coast Guard helicopter can lower K-9's and their handler's into those otherwise inaccessible areas. The Pasco Sheriff's Office currently has only done this in a training setting, but they are practicing every possible scenario to be prepared before they have to deploy.
"We certainly don't want the first time you practice something to be in the middle of a hurricane, and so having these skills ready to go and ready to be rolled out is critical to a timely response after a natural disaster," said Garrett Hendrickson with the Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater.