Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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National bravery award for Service dog team

Service search and rescue dog team John Ball and Darcy were honoured at the Service Dog Awards which took place at Ingatestone Hall on Saturday, April 16.

The awards recognise bravery, outstanding achievement and dedication to duty made by uniformed working dog teams and individuals across the UK from the Armed Forces, Police, Customs, Prison and Fire Service.

John and border collie Darcy received the award for Bravery and Outstanding achievement in recognition of the work they have done in the UK and overseas as part of United Kingdom International Search and Rescue team.

As well as attending incidents in Essex they have been part of international rescue efforts following major disasters, firstly in Sumatra in 2009 and then again last year after the devastating earthquakes which hit Nepal.

John first took Darcy home as a 10 week old puppy in April 2005 and their training began straight away. The hard work paid off and they were graded for both UK and International Search and Rescue operations just over a year later in June 2006 at only 17 months old. They were the first dog team from the UK to pass the International Rescue dog Organisation (IRO) Mission Readiness Test (MRT) in 2008.

The following year John became the first and only UK handler to pass the IRO dog team leader MRT. He is currently the Deputy Spokesperson for Deployment for the IRO and an International Assessor for Search Operations on behalf of the United Nations. John is also a trainer for overseas Urban Search and Rescue Fire Service dog teams.

Now aged 11, she is just as enthusiastic to work as when she first graded and they are one of the best qualified and most highly respected rescue dog teams in the country.

John said: “It’s great to receive this award. I couldn’t be more proud of Darcy and everything we have achieved and being recognised in this way is a real honour.

“Darcy is a natural search and rescue dog, she is as keen to get to work now as she was when she was a puppy 11 years ago. We both enjoy the work we do and together we have helped rescue teams target their resources and brought closure to many families who have lost loved ones in disasters.”

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