DISASTER dogs are the focus of hi-tech camera trials in Hampshire.
Man’s best friend is working with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) in trials of the latest wireless broadcast technology.
The application is called PAWS, an acronym for Portable, All-terrain, Wireless System, and comprises a lightweight head-cam and harness, specially-adapted for use by search dogs.
Byron, an experienced seven-year-old Border collie, put it to the test at a simulated disaster scene at Fort Widley, near Portsmouth, along with handler Robin Furniss, of the service’s USAR team The service’s search and rescue team, including specially-trained search dogs, is sent to disasters all over the world. Team members attended the aftermaths of both the Japanese and New Zealand earthquakes in 2011.
Mr Furniss said: “The ‘dogcam’ could prove useful in the future, as it is not always possible for firefighters to enter a collapsed building due to the unstable nature of the structure. On these occasions, a dog can be sent in as they are lighter and able to move around more safely in these confined conditions.
“The use of this technology would enable the firefighters outside the building to see what situation the dog is working in, and the position of the casualty, when the dog is working out of sight of the firefighter.”
This latest technology has been developed by Baughurst firm Wood & Douglas, which specialises in wireless broadcast technology applications.
The British firm grew out of one man’s hobby in a spare room. Now, Alan Wood’s company has a turnover of around £7million, employs over 60 people, and has just opened a £1million technology manufacturing centre, in Berkshire.
Grant Notman, of Wood & Douglas, explained that a car or other vehicle can be kitted out as a “receive station” where the person co-ordinating the rescue can see the camera’s transmitted pictures on a screen.