DC rescue dog who found trapped worker after building collapse is hailed a hero

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A Washington, D.C., search and rescue K-9 is being hailed a hero after helping first responders locate a trapped worker in the Thursday building collapse that injured five. 

Kimber was called in to aid in the effort after the five-story structure, which was under construction, fully collapsed in the district’s Brightwood Park neighborhood at around 3:30 p.m. ET. 


While all of the workers were injured, four were pulled from the rubble after rescuers arrived at the scene and were later transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

However, one man was stuck for more than 90 minutes as firefighters desperately worked to free him from the layers of debris, using saws and other equipment to cut through the wood.

Emergency crews respond after a building under construction collapsed Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

It was that man that 8-year-old Kimber helped find, darting through the wreckage and alerting firefighters to his location.

The worker was trapped under three floors’ worth of debris with about 8 inches of space around him.  He was able to communicate with the firefighters but was unable to move.

Once he was freed, emergency crews rushed him to the hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

Thursday was reportedly Kimber’s very first collapse-victim rescue, according to WUSA9

“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,” Kimber’s handler and partner, Battalion Chief Chris Holmes, told the station on Thursday. “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.”

“Another excellent job by Chief Holmes and Kimber. Using the USAR K9 saves precious time in the rescue effort by pinpointing a trapped persons exact location,” D.C. Fire and EMS Department Chief John Donnelly tweeted Thursday.

D.C. Fire and EMS Department public information officer Vito Maggiolo told Fox News on Friday that Kimber – who said he believes could be a German Shepherd or mixed breed and looks like a Malinois –  is a certified search and rescue K-9 who meets the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria.

He said that it was procedure to request the aid of a Search and Rescue canine during building collapses. 

“She’s responded to many, many calls and only on the other calls she confirmed that there was nobody in the rubble and that saves us a lot of time and effort in trying to find a potential victim or if we don’t know if somebody’s in there,” Maggiolo added. 

He pointed out that Kimber is a “live search dog,” able to detect the difference between a live scent and a deceased scent. 

In addition, Kimber’s natural agility in emergency response can save lives. 

“She’s very agile, so she can go into the ruins, search around the ruins and she quickly spotted … and she signaled the location of the victim. So now, all rescue firefighters were able to focus on that spot and it certainly reduces the amount of time it took to conduct the rescue,” said Maggiolo.


City officials said that authorities were still working to find out if proper permits were issued in the construction and if regulations were being followed.

Although it was too early to determine a cause to the collapse – and say if an area storm with a possible tornado played any part – a Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs inspector was sent to the scene.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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