On Saturday morning, in less than optimal conditions, Riley and Santa Barbara County firefighter Eric Grey were successful in passing the FEMA Search Canine Evaluation.
This is a mandatory test, taken every three years, that enables Riley and firefighter Grey to deploy anywhere in the United States and abroad in the event of a disaster.
Riley, a yellow lab, was bounced around in his early years because he was so rambunctious and proved to be too much for a couple of families to handle. But then he found the perfect fit: the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation training. SDF trainers said Riley’s exuberance and constant desire to be doing something helped him sail through his training.
“Riley did such an incredible job,” Grey said. “I could not be more proud!”
Leading up to the evaluation, Grey and Riley trained more than normal in order to give Riley as many scenarios as possible to work through. This required large amounts of travel in and around Southern California.
The Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance continues to provide incredible support for Grey and Riley’s training and equipment — at no cost to the fire department. Riley is a live scent disaster search canine whose job it is to assist Urban Search and Rescue personnel in determining the presence of live people trapped in rubble following a man-made or natural disaster.
Grey and Riley are assigned to the Regional USAR Team RTF-7 and the State Team CATF-2. Both teams utilize Grey and Riley in the same manner. State Team CATF-2 (Los Angeles County Fire Department), is one of the two internationally deployable teams decreed by the U.S. State Department.
In 2011, Grey and Riley were deployed to Tohoku Japan as part of CATF-2 for nine days following the catastrophic earthquake and subsequent tsunami to search for survivors.
— Capt. David Sadecki is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.