WHEN it comes to finding missing people out on the fells he’s as quick as a Flash!
That’s because Flash, an Edale Mountain Rescue Team dog has just passed his search and rescue dog training assesment, thanks to handler John Coombs.
Flash, a collie, is the fourth search dog to be put through his paces by John, aged 59.
During his 21 years as a volunteer for the service, John’s expertise has helped locate around 30 missing people, two dogs and scores of items of lost property.
But John says his latest success was a real team effort.
He said: “A search dog is a team member. The team helps a lot with training the dog – practically, by bodying, which means acting as a pretend casualty for the dog to find and with supporting the handler.
“It takes two years and a lot of commitment and time to train a dog and I couldn’t have done it without loads of support from my wife, Auriol, and kids, Will and Lindsey.”
John became a dog handler in 1990 and has been an Edale team member for 25 years.
He is a member of the Search and Rescue Dogs Association, which coordinates training and assessment of search and rescue dogs.
John added: “You have to be physically fit and an experienced member of a mountain rescue team, before you start to train the dog.
“Then you find a suitable dog and commit a lot of time to training it. You need a sort of aptitude for the work and some staying power for the assessment and the searches.”
Flash, joins Spider, Bonnie and Biscuit in John’s crop of canine graduates.
Edale Mountain Rescue provides a search and rescue service to a large part of the Peak District, north east Derbyshire and the edges of Sheffield.
n To make a donation log on to www.edalemountainrescue.co.uk.