Vernon Reflecting a continuing commitment to emergency preparedness, Mountain Creek donated use of their South Lodge for a building search exercise by the Ramapo Rescue Dog Association for the last weekend in August. The association is a non-profit, volunteer search and rescue organization that utilizes air-scenting German Shepherd dogs to help locate missing individuals in wilderness and disaster situations. The unit name was derived from the Ramapo Mountain chain where members regularly train. "In disaster situations, the chance of locating survivors will often depend on a team's ability to quickly and effectively narrow down the search area," said Penny Sullivan, president. "The opportunity to train in a building such as this is invaluable. The dog and handler teams learn to work the varying air currents and to zero in on the scent source." Founded in 1971, the unit has conducted numerous searches throughout the Eastern and Central United States. The unit's proven effectiveness can be attributed to two factors: the use of air-scenting dogs and the high demands made on all handlers and support personnel. Both the dog and handler spend many hours training together to be proficient in search methods under many conditions. Each handler is competent in map grinding, compass work, emergency first aid, victim evaluation, radio procedure and search strategy. There are an increasing number of situations in which search and rescue dogs have been recognized as a highly effective tool for the prompt recovery of missing individuals. Some illustrations include: children lost within a community, hikers or hunters missing in rural or wilderness areas, elderly persons disoriented near their residence, individuals buried under rubble in a disaster situation, victims missing from downed aircraft or motor vehicle accidents, deceased persons submerged in water or buried, crime scene searches and evidence recovery for investigative agencies. The association is a member of both the American Rescue Dog Association and the National Association for Search and Rescue. In order to provide better understanding for the use of the search dog, unit members conduct lectures and demonstrations for agencies and other interested groups. For additional information and general inquiries or to donate, call 845-469-4173.