Graduate apprentice trains mountain rescue dogs during lockdown

Covid-19 has has put Edinburgh into lockdown but that hasn’t stopped graduate apprentice Ross Pringle from finding a way to make a contribution by training mountain rescue dogs in his spare time.

Mountain Rescue dogs
Ross Pringle (left) and Evie

Ross decided to pursue a graduate apprenticeship at Leonardo after learning that the company supplies radars for search and rescue missions to customers including the US Coast Guard and the Norwegian All Weather Search and Rescue team.

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In 2016, his family started to volunteer at SARDA Southern Scotland, an organisation that trains search and rescue dogs for local Mountain Rescue teams. The dogs’ speed and acute sense of smell can often make a vital difference in supporting the volunteers, who often respond to emergencies in the most difficult and challenging situations.

As part of the dogs’ training, Ross and his fellow volunteers were called on to ‘body’, which involves acting as a casualty in a training area, so the dogs can search for them and lead their handler to their location.

Soon after joining, his stepfather joined the Ochils Mountain Rescue team and when the family welcomed a black Labrador called Evie into their home, Ross and his family made the decision to train her as a search and rescue dog with SARDA. Evie is now a ‘Mountain Rescue’ grade search dog and frequently attends call outs with Ross’s stepfather.

Ross said: “The current advice from Scottish Mountain Rescue is to stay local, stay safe and stay off the hills. Mountain rescue is still fully available, meaning that Evie could still be called out in a search. Knowing that training these search dogs is vital to the survival of real life casualties makes the charity very special to me.

“I’m glad to be part of Leonardo’s role in developing search and rescue radars for aircraft. SARDA has inspired me and my younger brother Adam also wishes to pursue a career in engineering that can save lives.”