Supporters gathered at the Coast Coliseum Convention Center Friday, to celebrate the formation of the Search and Rescue Foundation of the Gulf Coast. The group wants to develop and raise money for a regional Search and Rescue Team, that would handle emergencies from Louisiana to Florida.
Founder Dr. D.H. Short says "We would help provide all the support for all those handlers and their dogs, including the equipment, the clothing, communication gear and insurance and veterinarian costs".
Dr. Short says South Mississippi needs an organized team more than ever, because of the potential for tragedy. He says "This area is highly prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes. There is a natural fault line in this area, and most frighteningly, there are multiple terrorist targets throughout this area".
Right now, smaller teams like Gulf Coast Search and Rescue, help law enforcement agencies during an emergency. Coordinator Carlos Redmon says "The whole thing is to locate lost or missing people. Let's say we have tornadoes or hurricanes or situations where a building collapses, we'll be bringing these dogs in to look for people that are trapped in the rubble".
Redmon supports joining a regional program. Redmon says "There are a few separate people that are out there that have dogs, we also have some fire departments that might have dogs, so we're trying to work everybody on one team".
Dr. Short says "I would hope that we would work together, communicate with each other and they would come in to the overall team structure and be on an on-call basis". By working and training together, the volunteers hope to better respond to disasters and save even more lives.
The Search and Rescue Foundation of the Gulf Coast is trying to raise $300,000 in private funds to form the regional group. If you're interested in the Foundation, you can call 863-7862.