Congratulations to Don Dapkus, who earned his NASAR SARTECH II this month, along with Deryl Wingate, Birgit Wingate, and Rob Kirk, who earned their NASAR SARTECH IIIs this month.
Congratulations to Susannah Charleson, who earned her SARTECH III this month.
MARK9 has joined the hundreds of other rescue personnel in the Gulf states following Hurricane Katrina. Team members deployed to Louisiana Saturday, September 3rd, as part of the ongoing search and recovery effort there. A grateful thank you to REI and Wal-Mart for their generous supply support for this mission.
Congratulations to Fleta Kirk and Misty, Rob Kirk and Valkyrei -- who passed final performance tests and are now mission ready, certified for urban, disaster, and wilderness search. Misty is Fleta's second certified search dog; Valkyrei is Rob Kirk's first.
Deryl Wingate, Max Kirk, and Fleta Kirk participated as ICS evaluators for the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Operation Firework Fanfare in Lawton and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
An ongoing thank-you to Wal-Mart for their consistent support, by grant, for MARK9. We are proud to support the community alongside this corporation, which demonstrates a particular concern for child safety.
MARK9 has two new FAS team members -- Tammy Shelnutt and Sara Maryfield, who have completed the initial probation period and interview as of June 4th, 2005. Both demonstrated their fortitude early on in their experience with MARK-9, willingly hiding for the dogs or assisting as walk-along FAS teamers on a chilly Saturday in wooded terrain, knee-deep (literally) in poison ivy. It's a glory job, but somebody's got to do it! Welcome, Tammy and Sara, whose web pages will appear on the MARK9 site in December.
MARK9 extends a special thank you to REI for demonstrating compassion and commitment to community service nationwide. On May 5th, REI CEO Sally Jewell and Plano store management presented MARK-9 with a $5000 corporate grant, honoring the team's wilderness work and outdoor safety presentations for children and adults. We are proud of this partnership in adventure and safety. Thank you, REI!
Another thank you goes to anchor/reporter Maria Arita, KTVT CBS-11, for her feature profile on the joint rescue and training efforts of MARK9 and the Wylie Fire Department Dive Team. The news feature aired Tuesday, May 31st and Wednesday, June 1st.
Happy Birthday MARK9 Search and Rescue, 10 years strong! The team celebrated its decade of commitment with a party combining food, fun, games for human and canine teammates -- and a variety of unique SAR-related training exercises designed to challenge the inquiring mind.
Teresa Kirk and Sue Wooldridge have officially joined MARK9 as new team members. Look for gallery photos of them in action in coming weeks, and in September 2005, their official pages on the MARK9 website. Welcome Teresa and Sue!
Want to know what to do if you're lost? Ask the students at Good Shepherd Episcopal Elementary School, who now know all about it! On Friday, March 12th, members of MARK-9 presented three Sit & Stay sessions for 130 children. Sit & Stays teach children about safe lost procedure they can do to help themselves and help responders who look for them. The students were enthusiastic, and teachers report positive feedback from all who participated. And of course the dogs are happy — they got an extra round of pets and hugs from the children they helped coach.
Operations Officer and dog handler Fleta Kirk traveled with Saber to Tampa, Florida to receive the AKC's ACE award for Search Dog of the Year, 2004. This opportunity allowed dog and handler to meet the other ACE winners awarded in various service categories and to answer questions from the public about the nature of SAR dogs and the services they provide. MARK9's Hunter, handled by Max Kirk, was a finalist for this 2004 award, as well.
Forward-thinking Wylie Fire Department Dive Team has formed a training partnership with MARK9. Jointly we better discover how search dogs and dive teams can complement each other in the the recovery of boating accident and drowning victims. Water-related accidents are the source of frequent warm weather callouts for MARK-9 — indeed, for all emergency responders in North Texas — and we are honored to work with the Wylie FD Dive Team in the development of enhanced water recovery procedures.