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Date: 31-Aug-2016

Alex Fraser supported Search and Rescue Dogs Australia (SARDA) to conduct a field exercise at the Aradale Asylum in country Victoria in June.

What was a psychiatric hospital between 1865 and 1998 is now a ‘ghost town’ of around 70 abandoned buildings and provides a challenging location for training urban search and rescue dog teams. 
SARDA is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organisation that provides search and rescue dogs as part of Australia’s urban search and rescue capability. Founded in 1994 by current Secretary/Head Trainer Julie Cowan, it is active in Victoria and Queensland. 
Since 2013, we have made our crushing sites available to SARDA for training because the raw material stockpiles provide ideal simulation conditions for urban search and rescue.
This year, we are increasing our support by working with SARDA to train safely on our sites and providing financial support. HSEQ Adviser Daryl Weavers recently reviewed SARDA’s risk assessment for onsite training and discussed stock pile inspections and slips, trips and falls. Julie said the financial support allowed SARDA to bring Queensland teams to Victoria for the first time. “Thank you, Alex Fraser, for generously sponsoring the workshop – covering the cost of travel, food and accommodation. This has been a huge assistance to handlers who normally self-fund.”
In June, our Clayton site hosted SARDA’s bi-annual assessment day, conducted with the Victoria Police Dog Squad Trainers and Assessors. The SARDA teams passed their assessments with flying colours making their teams the highest qualified in Australia. SARDA is now accredited to be called by any Emergency Service Agency requiring a trained ‘disaster search dog’.
In October/November, SARDA will hold a four-day National Urban Search and Rescue Canine Workshop at our Laverton recycling facility. We are supporting two Search and Rescue trainers from the USA to provide practical training to ten Search Dog teams and six observers from Victoria and interstate, after which the teams should be ready should they be called on for search and recovery operations.

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