Seabees Help Build “Search City” Dog Training Facility

By 1st NCR Public Affairs


Seabees from various commands stand in front of a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement during the first day of construction of the National Training Center at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, Santa Paula, Calif., May 4.  (From left) BU2 Ryan Austin, BU2 Cameron Blevins, Lt. Kyrolos Elgiheny, EO1 Michael McConnell, BU3 D’Angelo Bryant, EO1 Kelley Curvin, BU2 Al Perry, CM1 David Eckhardt, BU1 James Stilwell, SW2 Elisa Biladeau, EO3 Clifford Brooke and BU3 Sean McGough.Photo by Lt. Justin Perry

Seabees from a variety of commands got a jump on building the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation’s (SDF’s) National Training Center (NTC), Santa Paula, Calif., May 4.

Supported by Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1, 1st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) and Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) 4, 18 and 22, active duty and reserve Seabees are working together to help build Search City. This is a first-of-its-kind facility at the NTC designed to replicate a disaster-stricken city neighborhood where search dogs and their handlers train on locating victims.

The construction project falls under the banner of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program, which enables the military and its service members to train for real-world missions while aiding the public and leaving a lasting impression on the community.

“This IRT program signifies how a partnership between the government and private sector can be a win-win for both entities,” said Lt. Justin Perry, the project’s manager from NMCB 22.

“We are here to leave lasting impressions by building, and the great thing about this training is that it fosters a skill set and teamwork…it teaches troops construction skills so that they always have something to fall back on.”

Search City is a continuation project from last year’s IRT program. Along with the simulated disaster zone, some of the additional work to be completed on this year’s mission includes the following: construction of a convenience store, observation decks/viewing areas and trails; 10,000 cubic yards of earth work; and building curbs for drainage. Completion of the work is scheduled for late August.

“The military coming to the National Training Center to help build the props needed to train search teams and, at the same time, getting the training (the Seabees) need to respond to disasters is the perfect partnership,” said Debra Tosch, executive director at SDF.

SDF was founded in 1996 with the mission of strengthening disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs, and then partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find victims buried alive in wreckage and debris. The foundation has been on more than 100 deployments around the world and has assisted with many high-profile search operations, including rescue efforts following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the aftermath of Japan’s deadly tsunami in 2011, and, most recently, the devastating earthquake in Nepal.


Seabees use heavy equipment at the future site of a convenience store during the early construction phase of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation’s National Training Center, Santa Paula, Calif., May 5.Photo by Lt. Justin Perry

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