• Conference Secretariat 07 5502 2068
  • sar@anzdmc.com.au

The 4th annual Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference will be held on Wednesday 23rd May 2018 at the Star Gold Coast. 

Mrs Sue Pritchard, Deputy Chair Land Search Capability Development Group, NSW State Emergency Service joins us at the Conference to present ‘I want Hounds! – How volunteer search dog teams can be utilised in your SAR operation’.


In the classic 1993 US action thriller The Fugitive, Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard aka Big Dog (Tommy Lee Jones) barks an order to his team…..“Hounds! I want hounds on both banks of this river for two miles upstream and downstream”

In Australia today, when most search coordinators think of a canine search asset they consider Police dogs. But when it comes to having a nose on the ground in a search response, there are other resources that can be engaged….and they aren’t just Bloodhounds.

Recent changes to the National Land Search Operations Manual, will now ensure that search trained emergency service personnel in Australia are aware of the currently developed and evolving volunteer search dog resources around the country.

Understanding the capability range of these volunteer resources including air scent, scent specific tracking, human remains detection, and evolving water search and avalanche search dog teams, will not only broaden minds but broaden the horizon of how a search operation can be resourced.

So how can these resources be utilised in your SAR operation on a practical level?

When would you call in a volunteer search dog team? What type of search dog capability do you need? Under what conditions are they most effective? How do you engage a volunteer search dog team and know the dog and handler are qualified? Will live find dogs find dead people, and vice versa? How will you know where they have searched? And will they bite my missing person or search team, or destroy evidence?

The question should really be, why wouldn’t you use an asset that can smell better than a human can, see better at night, is faster and more agile in rough and dense terrain, can be used in a multitude of search environments and will find missing people… for FREE.


Joining the NSW State Emergency Service in 2006, it was Sue’s first callout as a volunteer that ignited a quest to improve the way search is undertaken in Australia. Awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2016, Sue gained international insights to search methods, tools, protocols and training. Travelling to NZ, US, UK, Ireland and Switzerland she interviewed Police, Emergency Managers, and volunteer search personnel, and attended conferences, workshops, training exercises and search callouts. As a staff member and Deputy Chair, NSW SES Land Search Capability Development Group, Sue is dedicated to sharing her Fellowship research nationally across agencies and jurisdictions.

For information on the upcoming 2018 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference please visit the conference website.




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