The author of the Arcon rescue method, Jaime Parejo García, was born in Seville, Spain in 1961. From the time he was an adolescent, driven by a powerful, innate motivation, he devoted himself to studying, observing and analysing animal behaviour in their natural habitats.
Thus, at the tender age of 14, he travelled (usually hitchhiking due to a lack of money) to many different natural areas within Andalusia with his parents’authorisation, which was required to travel like that at such a young age.
He drafted his first research study, which he then handed in to a secondary school professor at the school where he was studying, José María Pérez Orozco, another tireless Andalusian naturalist, who recognised the exceptional qualities of the study despite its clearly amateur nature.
Jaime Parejo devoted himself to researching animal behaviour in virtually all the free time he was left after fulfilling his school obligations. Despite the fact that he earned excellent grades in both primary and secondary school, for several reasons he chose not to pursue university education and instead continued focusing on his clearly self-taught yet rigorous, demanding, painstaking, creative and open-minded pathway.
Driven by his strong humanitarian mission and also harnessing his special drive and innate ability to observe, analyse, and generate productive hypotheses, he faced twelve years of intense, arduous research and scientific writing focused on canine behaviour in general and aimed at fostering to the extent possible the performance in mankind’s specific use of dogs’ olfactory perception in multiple situations. All of this ultimately culminated in October 1994 with the creation of the Arcón Method.
This came after having had to solve with special determination, disheartened at times, the frequent, arduous difficulties inherent in this type of research and innovation, in which there were numerous, complex variables that both voluntarily and involuntarily affected both the observational and the experimental research on the dogs in multiple working conditions, all aimed at rescuing people buried by any element or situation.
The moulding processes (reinforcement of successive approximations to the desired instrumental response) that characterise each of the traditional canine detection training systems in general which still currently exist were excessively limited to basic or primary learning processes (classical conditioning, operant conditioning, avoidance, extinction, generalisation, discrimination, cognitive perspectives, etc.). However, the same does not hold true with the Arcón Method.
Extensive, persistent, intense and complex endeavours entailing observation, study, measurement and analysis of variables and responses, verification of multiple hypotheses and field experimentation, in short, scientific research, all enabled
Jaime Parejo to painstakingly develop a series of techniques that are minutely interrelated and ultimately manage to positively optimise the possible levels of autonomy, motivation and concentration of the animals when performing operations involving searches for buried people, either outdoors or in confined spaces with no visibility and a living space reduced to the minimum feasible displacement values.
With the aforementioned enhancement of the levels of motivation, working autonomy, and the parallel line of concentration, fulfilment of the objective set from the start, namely better speed and efficacy when locating buried persons, was
repeatedly verified (with a substantial, visible operative difference).
It was precisely in the Andalusian city of Seville where Jaime Parejo deemed his system complete, thus ushering in the birth of the system in October 1994, when he solidly demonstrated and verified the high level of effectiveness of the Arcón Method (easily exceeding the most cutting-edge technological methods, such as geophonic detectors), even in especially disadvantageous conditions in confined spaces, with his dog Arcón, in an official course on disaster rescue techniques held by the Public Safety School of Andalusia. In this course, the dog, before the eyes of numerous firefighters from Granada, Almería and Seville, carried out different search operations under pressure from a variety of extremely intense adverse factors (olfactory, spatial, visual, auditory, etc.), yet it managed to maintain the optimal levels of autonomy, motivation and concentration associated with excellent values in localising and signalling patterns.
This revolutionary, transcendent scientific innovation has enriched and expanded especially the field of animal learning. For several years now, this has also in parallel led to the rescue of buried people in several countries. For example, since 1999, the canine units of firefighters in Spain, El Salvador and other countries have detected living people buried under conditions that were extremely difficult to perceive, thus proving the higher efficacy of the Arcón Method compared to other systems using either living beings or electronic means. This has led the Arcón Method to be chosen and approved by governments as the official training and intervention system, and this method has also been officially adopted by the leading emergency squads and security forces and corps in countries with a high risk of earthquakes.
It should be pointed out that this system is difficult and complex to apply, as it requires a lengthy, intense period of theoretical-practical specialisation to become minimally familiar with it and to use it properly.
It has repeatedly been recognised internationally as a major step forward in the field of rescue operations.
Thus was born Arcon, as a new and exceptionally effective method of training and intervening in catastrophes with canine rescue teams, mainly aimed at detecting and saving buried survivors in cave-ins triggered by any cause (earthquakes,explosions, landslides, hurricanes, avalanches, etc.). The method manages to be extremely effective in both outdoor adverse search operations and in confined spaces (with no visibility and minimum room for displacements). Ten years later, it has also been adapted by many different police corps (Ecuador, Colombia, Caracas, etc.) to detect explosives, narcotics and trafficking endangered animal species, as its greater effectiveness compared to all the traditional systems has been demonstrated.
Currently, Jaime Parejo is Canine Rescue Expert and Head of the Canine Rescue Unit of the Firefighters of Seville. He is regarded as an internationally renowned expert in the speciality of canine catastropherescues. To date, he has been given numerous official awards, distinctions and congratulations both nationally and internationally from different governments and institutions (the Spanish Committee of the Mankind Programme and UNESCO’s Biosphere, the UNESCO Centre in Melilla, the governments of Spain, Colombia, China, etc.).
Specific examples include the First Prize for Research granted by the Spanish Royal Canine Society in 1998, and the Sasakawa Certificate of Distinction from the United Nations in 2005, both entailing worldwide recognition of his transcendent international research and teaching efforts as well as the scientific advances of the Arcón Method in reducing the number of disaster victims.In both case, he was the first Spaniard to earn such prominent distinctions.
He is a member of both the Spanish Ethology Society and the Animal Behaviour Society.He has written technical and scientific articles that have been chosen and published by important journals and organisations such as Desastres.org, REDVET (official scientific and technical publication of the Veterinary Organisation, whose articles are included in the Documentation and Scientific Information Centre of the Higher Council of Scientific Research, part of Spain’s Ministry of Education and Science) and CRID, the regional information centre on disasters in Latin American and the Caribbean, an important platform for inter-sectorial coordination andcollaboration for the region on information on disasters, which includes OPS/OMS, EIRD/ISDR, CNE, IFRC, CEPREDENAC and MSF. In 1998 he published a book entitled The Book on Rescue Dogs: Arcon Method Training (El Nuevo Libro del Perro de Salvamento, Formacion Metodo Arcon
He has also delivered lectures in multiple countries and institutions.
In his capacity as Technical Director and General Instructor, since 1996 he has taught a total of
24 specialisation courses in canine catastrophe rescue, the Arcón Method (one month, 250 teaching hours), always officially certified or offered by governments. In these courses, he has trained, evaluated and operatively certified guides, instructors and rescue dogs of numerous firefighter squads, police corps and armies, which were officially chosen under operative criteria from a total of 17countries with a high risk of earthquakes.As Technical Director, he has also technically drafted a number of official projects,rules, regulations and programmes in canin catastrophe rescue (Arcón Method) both nationally and internationally.
The exceptional levels of autonomy, motivation and concentration that the Arcon Method confers on canine searches make it possible, with their consequent high degree of olfactory performance, to localise living people who are buried (or other elements, such as narcotics, explosives, endangered species, etc.) even in places that are extremely difficult to perceive because of how deep or hermetic the burial is, in cases in which other types of canine teams or geophone detectors used to intervene, there was zero detection and thus the possibility of survivors was erroneously discarded) has managed to enable canine rescue units from many different firefighter squads (consortium of Huelva, Huelva Town Hall, El Salvador, Chile, etc.) to quickly and precisely localize people who are totally buried under several metres of earth, rubbish or rubble in both outdoor and indoor search operations in confined adverse spaces.
What drives Jaime Parejo’s efforts ?
Two fundamental factors have motivated Jaime Parejo’s efforts from the start in his arduous task of expanding and gaining official international consolidation for the Arcón Method afterhaving created it:
a) The crucial need for every country, region or city to have in situ at least one canine rescue unit that has been proven effective, considering that buried survivors die gradually for a variety of clinical reasons if they are not localised and rescued in time after being buried. There is constantly new proof that canine rescue units for international support in the event of disasters do not arrive on time, even in cases with extremely quick activations and departures. Indeed, after just a few hours have elapsed, the number of buried survivors drops sharply with just a few exceptions (such as people that have been rescued alive after several days of being buried) or, as happens in the majority of international aid interventions, no buried people are found alive.
b) A second preventative measure, which is also pending urgent resolution, is the necessary official government control and approval to guarantee a high enough level of effectiveness in this type of intervention by giving official status to a training and intervention method for canine catastrophe rescue teams – a method whose level of efficacy has been rigorously proven by true canine specialists from the leading official corps intervening in accidents, firefighters and police squads. With regard to the speciality of canine catastrophe rescue (rubble) the Arcón Method (rules on training, evaluation, official certification of human/canine operativeness, lines of intervention, etc.) has been approved by the government as the official method to be followed by official corps intervening in emergencies (firefighters, police squads) in the different regions and countries affected by high risk of earthquakes, landslides and other potential causes of cave-ins. It is the only system of training/intervention for canine catastrophe rescue that has been chosen by many different governments based on its proven degree of efficacy (in simulations or real interventions) and with recognised scientific value for localising and saving buried survivors in cave-ins triggered by any cause (explosions, earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, structural flaws, etc.) and in any situation (both outdoors and in confined spaces).