Search and rescue teams learn from McKeesport police crime scene class
Members of the Western Pennsylvania Search and Rescue Alliance learned how to work a crime scene Saturday at a class taught by McKeesport police.
Lt. Tim Bliss, who heads the K-9 Unit, and Detective Joe Osinski shared insights with K-9 handlers, EMTs, paramedics, search operation managers and other rescue personnel whose assignments often overlap with criminal investigations.
“If we are going out to find someone who is lost, we don't know what happened,” said K-9 handler Donna Ruzewski from White Oak. “Any search and rescue can turn into a crime scene, and because we work closely with police we have to learn to work well together.”
Allegheny County Search and Rescue coordinator Mark Jones, who is White Oak's emergency management coordinator, said training with law enforcement is essential for situational awareness.
“It opens these folks' eyes to what they should be thinking of, because a lot of our people end up in crime scenes whether they know it or not,” Jones said. “As we're searching, we need to know what we're getting ourselves into.”
Bliss defined the moment when a search and rescue situation becomes a crime scene, a transition often first experienced by K-9 handlers.
“The dog is finding evidence that people may not see,” he said. “It could be a footprint, a discarded cigarette butt, a small toy that a child may have been carrying. The handler needs to know how to protect that evidence and who to notify.”
Osinski educated rescuers on how law enforcement officers handle evidence.
“If no one tells them how to do something, we can't fault them for doing it wrong,” he said. “We're giving them insight. All they know about crime scene investigations is what they see on TV, and that's not how it is in real life.”
Bliss and Osinski encouraged rescuers to be aware of their surroundings, not only to preserve evidence but to prevent themselves from becoming victims. If rescuers locate an injured person, they said, it's important to contact authorities with a precise location before reaching out to the victim.
Bliss said handlers should pay close attention to the terrain when leading dogs on a search opertation. Dangers such as broken glass and chemicals on the ground could be more dangerous to dogs than to their handlers.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Dump truck incident takes out traffic lights on Long Run Road in White Oak
- Police: Man arrested in McKeesport on stalking, other charges had loaded gun
- Elizabeth Township promotes police veteran to chief
- Elizabeth Township drops its solicitor, names interim replacement
- Day of prayer at McKeesport church shines light on HIV, AIDS
- East Allegheny officials discuss cost savings, turf’s status at workshop meeting
- Crowd demands answers from Steel Valley directors over playoff eligibility controversy
- McKeesport incident among derailments that prompt Casey to push ‘crude-by-rail’ rule
- McKeesport Area principal, 8 others take retirement offer
- Fatal West Mifflin dog attack recalls similar 2012 McKeesport incident
- Duquesne City School District projects $350,000 deficit