New WFD search and rescue K-9 is training to save lives


K-9 units are nothing new in Wichita. But the city’s newest member of the fire department is a first.

Her job is to save lives in ways that could not be done before. 

Sailor and her handler WFD Technical Rescue Team Captain Chad Winton have only been together for a few months now. 

Since then, he’s been preparing her on what to do when disaster strikes, because in certain life or death situations, she won’t have a minute to spare. 

She’s been training as the Wichita Fire Department’s search and rescue dog. 

“Becky and Barry Switzer of Oklahoma started the organization after the Murrah bombing,” said Capt. Winton. “They linked up with different breeders and kennels across the United States and they get these dogs.” 

Sailor chose Capt. Winton as her handler in Oklahoma, and Capt. Winton actually received the leash from Switzer, a legendary football coach. 

Now, he is preparing her for natural disasters, like the Greensburg or Eureka tornadoes, so that Sailor is ready to take action. 

“She is trained to locate live human scent,” said Capt. Winton. “And, it’s scent of individuals trapped in debris piles, rubble piles.”

“She’s lighter,” he said. “She’s more agile. She’s quicker. And, if we have unstable structure areas that we just can’t reach or get to in a timely manner, we’ll send Sailor.”

“She can be deployed as a local asset all the way up to a national asset on a disaster scene,” said Edward Greenlee, a firefighter with the WFD Technical Rescue Team.

Until Sailor takes her first test in March, Capt. Winton is keeping her busy. 

Sailor is funded by the Wichita Fire Department, State Fire Marshal’s Office and community donations. 

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