Ky. Air Guardsman, search-and-rescue K9 clear tornado rubble in Tenn.

  • Published
  • By Phil Speck
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A pararescueman from the Kentucky Air National Guard and his specially trained search-and-rescue dog, Callie, played a key role in Tennessee earlier this week when they searched for survivors following devastating tornadoes that struck the Nashville area early Tuesday.


Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons of 123rd Special Tactics Squadron searched debris fields with Callie later the same day, covering approximately one square mile in five hours. Callie, a Dutch shepherd and the only certified search-and-rescue dog in the Department of Defense, is able to clear rubble piles in minutes using her keen sense of smell, saving hours or days over traditional search-and-rescue methods, Parsons said.


“Although we didn’t find anyone during our search, we saved rescue crews hundreds of hours of triaging their efforts while searching through the destruction,” he added. “It was a great opportunity for Callie to use her skills to help during a real-world disaster.”


The search area was located in Cookeville, Tennessee, about 75 miles east of Nashville. It was the site of one of the tornados that caused a five-mile line of destruction across middle Tennessee, claiming 24 lives.


While on site, Parsons and Callie worked with local law enforcement, the sheriff’s department, local emergency medical services, and county and state fire departments. The Federal and Tennessee Emergency Management Agencies also assisted with the search.


Callie was one of two “live-find” dogs searching for survivors that could have still been buried by downed structures and debris, Parsons said. Cadaver dogs also were on-site looking for the deceased.