My frustration at not being able to repeat the test next year is still the same, as is the frustration with the lack of appropriate facilities in Australia.
I was given more feedback than is usual and for the obvious reason that I could take the learning back to Australia with me. What I came to understand was that apart from a classic and most basic mistake in the first search, my handling was better than I thought.
In the fourth search we were on song but I was again thrown by the situation of Jochen having scent, crawling through a small hole at ground level and spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get to the source. I was torn between allowing him time to sort it out, crawling underneath the pancake building (into the mud - you guys should have seen me) in the hope that this would be support for him or simply calling him out and trying to get him into one of the higher pancake levels to see if he could get scent that way.
I am just not used to being under time-pressure or being seriously challenged to sort out a search problem. In Australia Jochen searches, finds and alerts and time management is not an issue.
In every way this project has been worth it. The learning curve has been both enormous and exciting. Passing the test would most certainly have been the icing on the cake but it was not to be.
Alex, Peter and I can live with that, and we move on and will do our best to ensure that facilities and therefore training and preparation at this higher will be implemented in Australia. Somehow, sometime, I will do that test again and be really well prepared. It won't be with Jochen. He has more than done his part.
Jochen has droopy ears at the vet check. He tends to look like that when he is being examined. What he would really like to do is drop his shoulder, roll over onto his back and ask for a tummy rub. It is his best trick and gets people on side every time.
Just to give you guys some sense of the scale of this test, there were 20 teams, 70 figurant (victims), 16 assessors, 10 people keeping the kitchen going round the clock, 2 paramedics for the First Aid test, 1 vet for the vet check and Animal First Aid and one senior vet. At least two people worked in the office almost round the clock to collate the results and manage the office. One person was manager of the whole test and the second half of an assessor course was held concurrently with the test for 9 trainee assessors.
Dog handlers had this room as it is closest to the entrance and away from most of the other rooms. It was organised this way as we would be coming and going at all hours during the night. Our search started at 1.30 am.
There was another person closer to the edge in the corner and was missed by quite a few teams, us included. The assessors did say that this one really tested the teams, which is of course the point of the exercise.
There were two more buildings included in this search but with sensible questioning one could exclude one of them. And this was also part of the test. There are so many disaster sites that up to three (in one case, four) such sites would be included in the one search. If the handler pays attention and questions carefully, with the answers received one or even two sites can be excluded. The idea is to see if under pressure the handler can still think clearly and make appropriate tactical decisions quickly. It is all part of the deliberate pressure of this test.