'Everything was crushed': Burnaby search and rescue crew returns after work in Bahamas
Alyse Kotyk, CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, September 18, 2019 12:58PM PDT
A team of B.C. search and rescue volunteers and their four-legged helpers have returned home after helping communities devastated by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.
This wasn't Mark Pullen's first rescue mission, who is a retired Burnaby firefighter, but the destruction he saw was much worse than he expected.
"It was quite devastating when we got there," Pullen told CTV Morning Live Vancouver on Wednesday. "Everything was crushed, all the houses levelled."
Pullen was part of a volunteer team of firefighters and city staff from Burnaby and Penticton who, along with four recovery dogs, were tasked with finding deceased among the rubble.
"The smell of death was in the air," Pullen said, adding that it made the situation a challenge for the dogs who needed to help locate bodies. "You'd have to sort of differentiate and try and put the dog in the best spot."
The Bahamas were devastated by the Category 5 storm earlier this month. Dozens were killed, while buildings and infrastructure were all damaged.
This was Chris Revitt's first mission with his dog Charlie. Revitt, who works with the City of Burnaby, said he learned a lot about his canine companion during the trip, who he described as "a working toddler" he had to monitor 24-7.
"You're very attached to the dog and watching them," Revitt said, adding that the extreme heat and humidity were particularly challenging.
The team also rescued some stray dogs and helped at a medical clinic. They were also integral in finding three missing Canadians.
"That went way easier and went way better than we thought it could have gone," Pullen said.
Now that they're back, Revitt said it's important for the team to remember the good work they did, in spite of the extremely difficult environment.
"You really just have to focus on the positive aspects and pull those out," he said. "It's going to be years of rebuilding and them struggling down there."