[Photo from Crown Point Fire Rescue Canine Unit Facebook page]
The Crown Point Fire Rescue Department is starting a search and rescue canine program, but they need help from the community. Firefighter/paramedic Ryan Cusack says they would like to have a search and rescue canine team ready by the middle of 2013, and they're looking for donations from individuals and businesses to acquire the dog and necessary equipment. Cusack says the specially-trained canine would serve not only Crown Point, but also a larger, regional effort across five counties in northwest Indiana, in a search-and-rescue capacity. Cusack says Crown Point's Fire Rescue team is dispatched across Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper Counties, "whether it's a house collapsing because of a thunderstorm, or a gas explosion, things of that nature."
Cusack recalls a particular instance this year where a canine team could have been a great help. A thunderstorm over the summer took a roof from an apartment building in Merrillville, Cusack says, and the team was dispatched there to search for potential victims in the parking lot where the roof had landed. A search-and-rescue dog "would have been able to search that parking lot a lot faster than our crews were able to peel apart parts of the roof and visually look inside".
To donate or for more information, call Cusack at 219-779-8269. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter as the Crown Point Fire Rescue Canine Unit. Citizens can also stop by the Crown Point Fire Department at 126 North East Street, one block east of the Courthouse Square, to drop off a donation.