From tornados to the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma is no stranger to disaster. Becky & Barry Switzer have seen firsthand the positive difference Search and Rescue canines can make in the face of such mass casualty situations, and they have seen how tragedy can result when Search and Rescue canine teams are not available. In response to the critical need for specialized Search and Rescue dogs trained specifically to minimize unnecessary loss of life in the face of disaster, Ground Zero Emergency Training Center was founded in 2017.
The mission of Ground Zero is to strengthen emergency response to natural and man-made disasters locally and nationally. No device or person can search a disaster site as quickly and efficiently as a trained Search and Rescue canine, reducing search time from days to hours. Located in central Oklahoma in the heart of the country, Ground Zero has trained and placed 31 Search and Rescue dogs within its first three years of operation. Differentiating itself from other training facilities, Ground Zero trains Search and Rescue dogs alongside their First Responder partners.
Due to COVID-19, safety precautions have limited the amount and type of training and our training campus is closed to visitors. The inability to host workshops and training courses for First Responders has eliminated a critical revenue stream. On-campus demonstrations for potential sponsors and donors have also been halted.
Since the campus closure, Ground Zero is relying solely on donations to continue operations. Our 2020 fundraiser, estimated to raise a minimum of $250k, has also been postponed. It has become difficult to purchase needed supplies for the canines and staff to continue training. Because we have live animals, complete closure of our doors for 30-60 days is not an option. We are in need of your help.
This spring, we have already seen tornado outbreaks in TN, MS, TX, LA, AL,. SC, OK and GA. There have been 341 confirmed tornados with 72 lives lost, including the most recent tornado that hit Madill, Oklahoma. Search and Rescue canine teams are essential to saving lives in disaster situations, and there is a critical shortage of these teams.
Ground Zero needs your assistance to Help the Heroes. We recognize COVID-19 has made life difficult for all of us and we thank you for your support. We applaud our First Responders and front-line health care workers, we are forever grateful for your dedication and commitment. If you can help Ground Zero, please click the “Donate” button and give whatever you can. Together, we can make a difference, .