SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Korea Bizwire) – The National Fire Agency (NFA) revealed on November 6 that it is deliberating on increasing the population of its search and rescue dog troop from the current 26 to 75 by 2021.
Search and rescue (SAR) dogs are valuable in outdoor emergency settings like natural disasters for their innate sense of smell and intelligence, which can lead them to find people trapped under debris. According to the NFA, the 26 dogs on active duty are stationed at nine locations nationwide.
In line with the prospective increase, the NFA will hire ten more trainers by 2020 for a total of 14.
A command center will be set up within the NFA next year that will oversee search and rescue operations after the onset of a natural disaster. The command center will only step in if NFA stations at the city or provincial level are overwhelmed and unable to respond appropriately. Under such circumstances, the NFA director will assume command and address the situation accordingly.
The NFA is also making preparations for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next February and the Paralympic Games that will take place afterwards in March, being tasked with undertaking site inspections of 20,758 facilities.
South Korea recently held the biggest disaster response drills in its history from Seoul to Jeju Island. Lasting from October 30 to November 3, realistic situations like a leak from a nuclear reactor, a major fire in the heart of Seoul and a collision between two ships at the Port of Busan were drawn up. Including the central and municipal governments, more than 526 organizations took part in the nationwide drills.