DC Fire K9 Helped Find Trapped Man In Collapsed Building

A four-legged rescuer helped the fire and rescue team to locate a man trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Washington DC. Kimber, a DC Fire EMS rescue dog, pinpointed the exact location of the man, and rescuers were able to pull out the victim and care for his injuries. 

The five-story building, currently undergoing construction in the 900 Block, Kennedy Street Northwest Washington D.C., collapsed on Thursday, July 1, 2021, during the height of a heavy thunderstorm that ripped through the area. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation. 

How The Dog Found The Victim

K9 in DC Fire

Kimber, a 7-year old Belgian Malinois, went underneath the rubble and signaled the location of the victim to the rescue team. Firefighters had to saw through heavy layers of rubble to reach the trapped victim, who only had 8 inches of space around him.

The man, Leonardo Moreto Da Silva, was trapped for almost 90 minutes until he was finally rescued. He was found conscious and appeared comforted when he saw the dog that rescued him. Four other construction workers were pulled from the debris early on in the rescue effort with non-life-threatening injuries.

Chris Holmes, Kimber’s handler and partner, said the dog is trained to search for live victims. “The dog is a force multiplier. So, where we would have to have people hand-dig or search physically, the dog can sense with its nose where the victim is,” Holmes said.

“And not only sense where the victim is, but let us know if a victim is alive or deceased. So, the dog is looking for live, concealed human scent, and that’s what she did today.”

Gratitude For The Hero Dog

The sister of the victim said on Thursday that her brother thought he was going to die. He is a 27-year-old civil engineer from Brazil, who came to the US just before the pandemic hit and is pursuing a master’s degree. Doctors stated that he might not be able to walk again because of the accident. His sister added, “I would probably be talking about his funeral if it weren’t for the help of the rescuers.”

After a few days, Kimber was back on duty after damaging one of her paws that required some stitching. Her handler explained that the rescue dogs are “more effective and would likely suffer less injuries if they are allowed to work without protective foot coverings despite the danger.”

Holmes added, “She has been the highlight of my career and we’ll be ready for the next one.” Holmes trained Kimber specifically for rescuing live victims and she is the only dog capable of this in the DC Fire EMS Team.

Disaster zones are nothing new to Kimber who has seen action from Washington D.C. to hurricane-hit areas, like St. Croix and Puerto Rico. Kimber is truly a hero dog that deserves all the pats and belly rubs she can get.

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Pete Decker