Phoenix firefighters, recovery dogs headed to Washington mudslide


by Natalie Brand

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 4 at 4:39 PM

PHOENIX -- Two specially trained dogs and their handlers from Phoenix Fire Arizona Task Force 1 will head to Washington State Thursday morning to help in the aftermath of the deadly mudslide.

“We’re ready to deploy within six hours anywhere in the United States,” said firefighter-engineer Dana Medlin.

He and his dog will not be making the trip north because Hoss is a rescue dog. Sadly, the mission in Oso, Wash. has turned to a recovery.

As of Wednesday night, the death toll was reported at 29 people with at least 15 people still missing.

“Literally, we train them on a drop of blood on a piece of gauze, inside of a tin can, buried 10 to 15 feet in a pile of rubble,” Medlin explained.

Rescuers on the ground in Washington reported the muck is 70 feet thick in some places, and the disaster zone is said to stretch 1,500 feet.

“This was the most impressive disaster I’ve ever seen,” said Phoenix Battalion Chief Pat Carlisle.

He spent a week at the disaster site working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, focusing on hazardous material and decontamination.

“They are progressing as best as they can. All the right things were being done every day, and so every day it got better,” Carlisle said.

However, with an overwhelming amount of debris and destruction and a painstaking search for people still missing, more help from Phoenix is needed and on the way.

“It’s important for us to go up there,” Medlin said. “It keeps our skills sharp. It helps out our fellow citizens of the United States.”