This year, the Dara Fitzpatrick Memorial Run (DFrun) has chosen Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) Ireland as one of their charity partners for 2019. SARDA Ireland is a voluntary search and rescue organisation that trains and deploys Search and Rescue Dogs to search for missing persons.
The proceeds of the DFrun will be used to host an International Search and Rescue (SAR) Trailing Dog Conference in Waterford in 2020. This conference will be the first of its kind in Europe and will bring together SAR Trailing Dog handlers from Ireland, the UK, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. We at SARDA Ireland feel this inaugural conference will be a fitting tribute to Dara who achieved many firsts in so many of her fields.
SARDA Ireland are proud and honoured to be a chosen beneficiary of this great event. Dara is fondly remembered by many over her years of service with the Irish Coast Guard, including ten years at the Waterford base. During this time, she worked with many of SARDA Ireland’s two and four legged members.
SARDA Ireland training is rigorous and ensures that a dog can complete these tasks in all conditions, regardless of weather or distractions. Approximately two-thirds of these searches take place in wooded or recreational areas, farmland, semi-urban areas, or along rivers, lakes and shorelines. SARDA Ireland has spent over 430 hours responding to callouts for over 130 missing persons since 2016. Many of these searches last for longer than one day, with some unfortunately lasting for weeks.
Over the last 30 years, SARDA Ireland have trained Air-Scenting search dogs. These dogs offer an invaluable service during searches as they provide a way of searching large areas quickly. An Air-Scenting Search Dog works off lead, and at great distance from their handler. Experts estimate that a single SAR dog can accomplish the work of 20 to 30 human searchers. The search dog’s job is to find a human scent and alert the handler that it’s found a person by barking. The SARDA dog then leads the handler back to the person. Search and Rescue Dog Association (Ireland) Registered Charity (No. 20029982)
These air scenting dogs find any person in an area and are particularly useful when a person is missing in remote areas like forests, bogs, hillsides or shoreline.
In the last year, SARDA Ireland has established a programme to train Trailing Search Dogs. Trailing Search dogs are ‘scent-specific’ and need a scent article belonging to a missing person. These dogs work on a long lead as they are trained to follow the specific scent of the missing person. They can work in heavily contaminated areas including urban environments and are able to eliminate competing scents that bear no significance to the missing person.
The SAR Trailing Conference 2020 will bring an extensive international network of experts together to exchange knowledge and share best practices, with the goal of improving search techniques so that a missing person can be located faster. This encapsulates Dara’s personality, as someone that brought people together, ‘so that others may live’.
The Dara Fitzpatrick Memorial Run takes place in Waterford Airport on Saturday 14th of September at 10am. SARDA Ireland are delighted to be partnered with Waterford Hospice, who are also DFrun charity partners for 2019. Waterford Hospice provides medical and nursing care for patients with life-limiting illnesses, in their own homes, and in nursing homes throughout Waterford and South Kilkenny.
For more information, or to register or donate to the event see www.dfrun.ie. Come along to meet the fantastic handlers and search dogs from SARDA Ireland. If you would like to know more about SARDA Ireland, follow us on Facebook or visit sardaireland.com.
SARDA Ireland was set up in 1987 as a Registered Charity (No. 20029982) and is a member of Mountain Rescue Ireland and NSARDA (National Search and Rescue Dog Association) which comprises of SARDA organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.