Earthquake rocks California’s Central Coast

December 22, 2003

Santa Barbara firefighter Howard Orr and his canine partner Duke responded to a 6.5 earthquake that rocked the central coast region of California. “Waiting for the call was the hardest…the excitement and frustration of watching it on TV, knowing this was a perfect opportunity to help,” said Howard. At the disaster site, Howard and Duke went to work exploring pockets of space (called “voids”) under piles of debris. “When you come upon a scene you already know where to systematically begin to look for victims. Duke knew exactly what to do. It’s really great to see how the hard work and training comes together. While you focus on the worst, you hope for the best.”

Here's where SDF training really came into play. Inside a dress shop, a stairway led to the second story. Rescuer access was blocked at the top of the stairway due to the unsupported roof, which had fallen down into the stairway. It had not been searched yet!

I was able to send Duke up the stairs to the second floor on his own. Once he reached the top, moving around the debris, he went to the right searching the second floor. About 10 seconds later he came back across the hallway moving to the left continuing to search. About 30 seconds later he returned to the stairway as if to say, "All done, what's next?" We exited the shop and awaited our next assignment.

Howard & Duke were also deployed to help with rescue efforts at a deadly mudslide in La Conchita, California in January of 2005. They stand ready to serve anytime, anywhere!