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K-9 to join C.P. Fire Rescue

Ryan Cusack Crown Point Fire Department will be handler departments most recent hire search rescue dog. Businesses throughout Crown Point

Ryan Cusack, of the Crown Point Fire Department will be the handler of the departments most recent hire, a search and rescue dog. Businesses throughout Crown Point have been raising the money to fund the departments new addition. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

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To donate

Anyone wishing to contribute to this new K-9 part of the Crown Point Fire Rescue Department can contact the station at 662-3248, Ext. 0, or drop off a check (payable to the Crown Point Volunteer Fire Department Inc.) at 126 N. East St., Crown Point, IN 46307.

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CROWN POINT — The Board of Public Works and Safety on Feb. 13 approved a Rescue K-9 operating policy. Fire Chief Greg DeLor told the board members that a dog will be joining the department’s ranks very soon.

The purchase is being made possible by the fundraising efforts of Ryan Cusack. Cusack is a full-time firefighter/paramedic and will be the K-9 handler for the fire department.

In late March or early April Cusack will travel south to work one-on-one with Jake, the city’s new dog. The training is at Robert Milner’s Duckhill Kennels in Somerville, Tenn. Jake is a British Labrador retriever, with a color called fox red. He is about 14 months old.

The dog will be charged with finding live victims during a disaster, natural or man-made.

According to the trainers, Labradors were born to hunt and retrieve. This natural instinct is shaped and the dog begins to work for play instead of food. Instead of ducks, they are taught to find people. Once they find their human victim, they get paid with playtime.

Unlike bloodhounds, disaster trained dogs find everyone in an area, not just a specific person.

Cusack attended a training program in South Bend. on Feb. 18. He got to be the “victim” the dogs there were searching for. Cusack was “trapped” beneath a car surrounded by rubble. The other K-9 teams had to find him for their handlers.

Jake will be living with Cusack and reporting for duty at the station with him on Turn 2.

“Once Jake is trained, I will travel to Tennessee and train with him for one week. Once I bring him home, we will work towards certifying with Indiana Department of Homeland Security,” said Cusack. He added, “It is a (Federal Emergency Management Agency) equivalent certification and mirrors the requirements of urban search and rescue dogs that work on the FEMA US&R task forces you see deployed to disasters all over the world.”

Cusack was very excited to say, “We will be the first fire-department based urban search and rescue canine team in the region. Our next closest resources are in South Bend and Indianapolis.”

The fund raising that has been running full speed ahead is about half way to the first goal of collection $10,000, which buys the dog and pays for the joint canine/handler training and equipment.

According to Cusack, they will have to continue that fundraising every year to help provide maintenance for the dog. This includes medical care, food, equipment and on-going training. No tax money is being used for this K-9 project.

Crown Point Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team is a part of the Indiana Homeland Security District 1 Response Taskforce. District I Region includes Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties.

In addition to the rescue training, Cusack also has to undergo special training to handle Jake. This includes first-aid for canines, rope rescue skills, hazardous material and weapons of mass destruction awareness, and structural collapse training.

“I already serve as a technical search specialist on our team, operating search cameras and GPS mapping systems,” Cusack said.

The first to jump on the bandwagon to help raise funds were Man Cave Barbers and At Your Bark n Call. Man Cave Barbers, owned by Wayne Borowski, is located on Summit Street on the west end of the shopping center anchored by BW restaurant. Man Cave barbers will also help shave heads at the St. Baldrick’s Day event in the Crown Point firehouse on St. Patrick’s Day.

At Your Bark n Call is at 1157 Erie Court, just south of Summit Street, next door to the vehicle emissions checking station.



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