January 24, 2007 Edition

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LVFD uses bloodhounds
for search and rescue

Amber Adams
Staff Writer

Lynn Volunteer Fire Department is the base for the Lawrence County Search and Rescue team. Two trained bloodhounds, Daisy and Molly, joined their team last year.

Mike Bristow, the dogs' owner and trainer, said they are a vital part of the team. They have used the dogs for several big jobs in the last year including a manhunt in Walnut Ridge and one near The Lord's Ranch, two search missions after the flooding in September and other search and rescue missions in Lawrence, Randolph and Sharp counties.

Bristow, and other members of the team work both Daisy, who is four-and-a-half years old, and Molly, who is just over one year old, several times a week to keep them in shape.

"Everyone helps with their training," Bristow said. " I can't do this by myself, someone has to hide from them or there is no scent to follow."

He said the dogs can pick up a scent that is four to five days old and hold that scent for 56 hours.

These dogs are not cadaver dogs, according to Bristow, which are trained especially to locate dead bodies, but they are trained to follow a person's scent.

"These girls can pick up a scent from anything, even a truck seat," Bristow said, adding that that was where they got the scent for the manhunt in Walnut Ridge last year.

Bristow also said their team is part of a larger group, consisting of firemen, police and first responders from all over the county, which will become CERT, Community Emergency Response Team, certified in February.

"I think this team will be something Lawrence County will be proud to send to any county for aid," said Bristow. "We have a lot of resources here that people don't know about." He added that the Lawrence County team also has divers, swift water rescuers, EMTs, HazMat, a level three caver and a pilot.

Bristow said the search and rescue team does not charge for its services, but does accept donations.

Besides Daisy and Molly, the Lynn Fire Department has a boat, a four-wheeler, an extrication vehicle equipped with the jaws of life and a new ambulance, to run search and rescue missions.

Bristow said his team is thankful for Steve Jones and Paige Vanbrook for their support, to Wendell Jones who donated wheels and tires for their truck and to everyone who has laid tracks for the dogs and helped run them.

"It really takes a group effort to keep them trained," he said. "And we're thankful for everyone who helps."

This week Bristow purchased a new dog for the team, Sally.

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