Georgian Bay Search and Rescue Team Trains at Fire & CBRN Academy

Zappa searching for a hidden object in the aircraft intake
Zena and trainer Susan Read
Zappa finding the hidden object in the aircraft vent
Publication Date 
02 Dec 2023

On a beautiful Sunday in September, several members of the Georgian Bay Volunteer Search and Rescue came out to the Canadian Forces Fire and CBRN Academy (CFFCA) training area to hone their skills and to prepare two of their canine members for their upcoming certifications. They took advantage of our expansive area of 159 acres and maneuvered through challenging scenarios, making use of some of the training props in our “Disaster Village”.  

Georgian Bay Search and Rescue began in 1998 and they currently have approximately 35 searchers. The team provides police and other agencies with professional volunteers in the form of highly trained and equipped search and rescue personnel who are available 24/7. Running the drills for the day was Susan Read (Provincial K9 Coordinator, Central Regional Representative). She is in her 21st year with the team. She is the owner of the two dogs, Zena and Zappa, who were put through their paces that Sunday. In Ontario,one must be on an OSARVA team (Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association) in order to work a K9. Currently there are only four civilian K9 units in the province.
Zena is a 5-year old Malinois. She's been certified with the OPP since 2019 as Live Find K9. She has three disciplines that she must pass: tracking (nose to ground following human odour), air scent for a person (nose to the wind) and air scent for articles or clues along with obedience and agility.  Zena must certify annually. Zena’s exercise consisted of finding a live human hidden in the training area. She was able to locate a cell phone with the subject’s scent on it. Impressive indeed!
Zappa is a 9-year old Malinois. He has been certified as a Human Remains Detection K9 with NAPWDA (North American Police Work Dog Association) since 2015. He must pass in six areas to certify: rubble, building, vehicle, open area, water and buried.  He too must certify annually. For Zappa’s exercise, a small jar of tissue, replicating a cadaver was placed in an air intake of an abandoned CF-5 aircraft. Another source was placed in a wing of an abandoned aircraft. He promptly located the sources and passed his exercise with flying colours. Upon the completion of the canine exercises, the human members of the team practiced their skills.

The members of Georgian Base Search and Rescue perform these valuable duties on their own time and they are not compensated financially for their efforts. They are truly among the unsung heroes that help keep our society safe.


1.  Air intake on top of the fuselage where tissue source was placed for Zappa to find.
2.  Susan Read and Zappa at work.
3.  Zappa locating the tissue source in the air craft intake.
4.  “Disaster Village” in CFFCA Training Area.
5.  Zappa locating the tissue source hidden in the wing.
6.  Training aid in “Disaster Village”.
7.  Zena searching for live subject.
8.  Zena and Susan Read.
9.  Zappa and Susan Read.
10. Zappa searching for tissue source hidden in aircraft.
11. Zappa finding the tissue source hidden in the aircraft vent.