Friday 18 October 2019

Paw Patrol: Meet the former HSE paramedic now helping fight terrorism in the US

Derek O'Rourke
Pic: Vapor Wake K9
Derek O'Rourke Pic: Vapor Wake K9

MEET the former HSE paramedic heading up international operations for a U.S. company battling terrorists.

Dubliner Derek O’Rourke has been appointed as International Director of Operations at Vapor Wake K9.

The company, based in West Point in Georgia, trains and supplies dogs with an unmatched ability to detect body-worn or carried explosives and weapons on a person moving through areas of high pedestrian traffic.

It’s a merger of technology and canine that could help prevent a repeat of atrocities such as the Manchester Arena bombing of May 22, 2017.

Training at Vapor Wake K9
Training at Vapor Wake K9

Vapor Wake dogs, trained at one of the largest canine academies in the world, a 320-acre site in the U.S., are now being supplied to governments, law enforcement, military and commercial agencies worldwide.

Traditional bomb detection dogs are trained to view static objects as their productive search area, sniffing out suitcases, cars and packages.

However, Vapor Wake trained dogs are different in that they zone in on the odour of the explosive itself and then follow it to its source in real time – effectively sniffing out the wake of vapour left by the explosive carrier as particles from explosives and weapons mix with the carrier’s heat plume.

According to the company, these heat plumes are as clear to Vapor Wake trained dogs as a brightly coloured ribbon trailing behind a person would be to the normal human eye.

Speaking with the Sunday World, Derek said: “With Vapor Wake we have a proven technological solution to a complex problem and an evolving threat around the world.

“Vapor Wake canines provide a mobile detection capability, a physical deterrent and additional layers as part of any organisation’s security planning.”

So how did Derek go from his work as a paramedic to International Director of Operations at Vapor Wake K9.

“I served with the HSE’s National Ambulance Service for 12 years before helping establish NASRA [The National Ambulance Service Representative Association] with Des Kavanagh in 2012.

“Later that year the conditions of the job alongside the low pay, led me to leave the public sector and take up employment as General Manager with Pulse Security.”

In 2014 Derek was offered a post with an Irish security company with offices in North America and Canada, leading him to move with his wife and four children to Canada. In late 2018 he stumbled across Vapor Wake.

“I immediately emailed their office in Anniston, Alabama, and to my surprise received a response to tell me they were in Toronto at an Aviation cargo conference,

“I met the company’s Director Kristie Dober and our President Paul Hammond for a coffee that evening and the rest is history.”

Sunday World

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