1st International Course for K9 water rescue team instructor


After a year of negotiations, the ILS Board of Directors accepted at their last Board Meetings two new Canine (K9) certificates: K9 water rescue team and K9 rescue team instructor. With these two certificates ILS made it possible to formally and worldwide start the K9 rescue work.

Since the certification system was managed by Karel Mennes from Belgium, with the support of the Flemish Life Saving Federation, it seemed logical that the first international course would be organised in Flanders. The Water Rescue Dog Academy and its members were the suitable candidate to organise this course. The event took place in Wuustwezel in Flanders, in the clubhouse of the Military Lifesaving Club.

The course started on 4 September 2012 and lasted one full week. Twelve candidates representing the USA, New-Zealand, Finland, Latvia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium participated in the course.

The course was provided in English and the +40 hours programme was followed in accordance with the requirement imposed by ILS.

The course consisted of:

  • Knowledge of the methodology and didactics of K9 Water Rescue Team.
  • Rescue Techniques programme with a K9 working as a team, with and without equipment.
  • Working with a K9 in an aquatic environment, with and without equipment.
  • Understanding and explanation of handling of resuscitation – first aid equipment in the correct way.
  • K9 water rescue team instruction in the organisation of rescue operations in an aquatic environment and land-based areas.

Several Simulated Emergency rescue cases were held and all candidates were tested in accordance with the standards set. The pace was very high, some theoretical clinics about rescue and water safety, followed by practice on the water with the water rescue.

A car in the water action was also organised in order to allow the participants to experience this skill. For many this element is unknown and with a frightened heart they entered into the car. After a few floating escapes everyone went bravely under water for a deep water escape. Allen finished with the well-deserved golden certificate of Car into the Water issued by the Flemish Lifesaving Federation. The certificates were handed out by Commander Rik Voorhelst, promoter and father of the actions car into the water.

The course ended with the presentation of the first 12 ILS instructor certificates and all participants returned home with again a new experience but above all the feeling of friendship and camaraderie amongst lifesavers.ie .

Karel Mennes
International K9 water rescue team instructor
Course director