A call went out early Saturday morning that hunters reported what they believed to be human remains in the woods near Gold Creek.
Within an hour, K9 search teams from across the state were combing the abandoned golf course.
The scenario was a training exercise for the Georgia Body Recovery Team, a group of about 120 members and the only formal law enforcement team in the state created for the sole purpose of body recovery missions.
“We try to make it as real as possible,” said Tim Satterfield, deputy chief of Dawson County Emergency Services.
Satterfield and Battalion Chief Milton Keller joined the team in May after a statewide search.
Satterfield said their involvement adds a new component to the county’s K9 search and rescue team.
“It gives us resources so that we can go ahead and put our team on the ground and going if someone is lost or missing. It gives us a quicker response,” he said.
K9 teams with support from Dawson County Community Emergency Response Team spent the morning on recovery exercises, searching through thick brush, along the edge of water sources and in the woods for remains, such as teeth, donated by the state crime lab.
“This time of the year is hunting season, and if there are people in the woods missing for several years, this is the time of year when a hunter would walk up on human remains,” Satterfield said.
Working as an extension of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the group is required to train 16 hours each month and travels throughout the state for drills.
Training coordinator Richard Price said Saturday’s session was one of the best training exercises he’s seen.
“That is the way it should be. This training was an excellent chance for the support members to work with handlers,” he said. “It went smooth.”