The Saint Bernard mountain pass links Switzerland and Italy through the Alps. First recorded mention of this treacherous route comes from Caesar, who attempted to conquer tribes living in the Saint Bernard pass during the Gallic wars around 57 B.C.E. When the mountainous region is mentioned again in popular history, it is because a man named St Bernard de Montjoux founded a monastery there in the eleventh century.

“Okay, enough with the history lesson already. What do dogs have to do with disasters?”

Saint Bernards were most likely first seen in the monastery around 1660-1670 A.C.E, when they were brought in as watch dogs. After a large storm, avalanche or other natural disaster, teams of monks and their dogs would wander into the wilderness to search for lost travellers. Over the 200 years that the dogs were actively working the Saint Bernard Pass, it is estimated that 2,000 people were rescued. Monks in the Saint Bernard monastery found the breed had an excellent sense of direction, as well as the ability to navigate through storms.

“So how does this all translate to modern disaster response?” 

In much the same way, Operation Dragon Fire will help navigate disaster response. Though unlike Saint Bernards searching for lost adventurers in the Alps, Operation Dragon Fire has a wealth of data and information available to determine the best direction for disaster professionals to go in times of disaster. By combining organizational and social media data, Operation Dragon Fire increases “visibility” during times of crises. 

“I bet that fancy decision-making technology can’t bring me a cold beer like those Saint Bernards could…”

One thing that neither Operation Dragon Fire nor Saint Bernards can accomplish is provide you with a refreshing sip of alcohol, which is probably for the best! While Saint Bernard’s have long been romanticized as wearing kegs on their collars, there is very little evidence that this occurred. Perhaps with the time saved by using Operation Dragon Fire during disaster response, you can take your favorite hound out for Happy Hour.