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On October 13th, teams from throughout northern Utah gathered at the Utah Olympic Park for obedience testing and "hot load" training with AirMed.
The teams started off the morning by performing their annual obedience test. Every "A" level team must complete an annual obedience test to be considered operational for the up-and-coming winter season. The test focuses on the K-9's ability to heel, stay, stay with the handler out of site, and aggression with other avalanche teams. Congratulations to the teams that passed!
After the obedience, AirMed brought in one of their Bell 407 helicopters to practice loading the avalanche K-9 teams while the helicopter is running-also known as a "hot load". If an avalanche occurs deep in the Wasatch backcountry, helicopter is the fastest way to arrive on the avalanche site. The helicopter and crew are much safter if the ship can remain running while in the backcountry. This type of training allows the K-9s to get comfortable around the helicopter and keeps the avalanche team safe. After the "hot load" and a short flight, the teams performed an easy search immediately after exiting the helicopter. This gets the K-9s used to going immediately into "work mode" after unloading.
The teams then cooled off in the UOP freestyle training pool after a long morning of training. The handlers were invited to join them, but we had no takers on the 55 degree water. You'd think ski patrollers would be used to braving the cold!