K-9’s used in search of deadly bridge collapse

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville search and rescue crews say sadly the bridge collapse in Miami has become a recovery operation and K-9s will be key. 

Capt. John Long is a K-9 search and rescue handler for both Jacksonville Fire Rescue and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He’s also part of the urban search and rescue team from Miami-Dade County, where the collapse happened.

He said crews at the scene are going to go through the process very slowly and meticulously to make sure that they get everything right for the investigation while respecting those who lost their lives.

The tragedy in South Florida is a big challenge for first responders, who initially were rescuing people from the rubble, then a day later were retrieving the bodies of those killed. Some people call it all in a day’s work. It is not. It’s a little bit more than that.

“You have to realize it is 950 tons of concrete. That’s not just something you can pick up and move easily obviously. You’ve got to take your time in case there is somebody,” said Long.

Long has a lot of experience, ranging from accidents to missing people to natural disasters. He works with two dogs. One for finding people alive. The other for locating bodies. The K-9s bark when they’ve detected something. In the Florida International University collapse, dogs were brought in first to find survivors, now to locate the dead.

He said crews are likely using cameras, power tools and cranes to get to any victims and that’s not an easy task. But it’s an important mission that could bring investigators clues about what went wrong  while at the same time giving the families of the victims’ closure.

Long said these urban search and rescue teams are positioned all across the country, ready to go and save lives at a moment’s notice.

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