b'60 MIA SECURITYThe first phase of the study launchedAs the dogs walked by, smelling theWith the innovative program still in on Aug. 23, 2021, and ran until Sept. 20.masks, they sat down if they detected theits infancy, MIA, Florida International When entering the checkpoint,specific chemical emitted by individualsUniversity and American are approaching volunteers took off their masks and hungwith COVID-19. Such employees thenthe trial with open minds. They are them over a long hook that was drapedtook rapid PCR tests to confirm the dogsoptimistic about the positive affects over a sealed divider separating thework. As the study progressed, the teamthe program could have, but also have employees from the dogs. determined that it was more efficient toquestions regarding the logistics of have employees hold their masks insteadexpanding it further. of using hooks. The enormous advantage is that thePotential BarriersA Dutch Shepard named One Betta There are several challenges for making sniffed out evidence of COVID dogs are very selective, meaning very infections during a recent 60-day few false positives, Furton says. Itthis possible in an everyday airport setting, pilot study at MIA.just takes a few seconds for the dogsPyatt acknowledges. Right now, the study to detect COVID. is voluntary and only for AA employees. Therefore, there needs to be protocols in Phase 1 of the pilot involvedplace to move toward testing others. Also, a single isolated checkpoint tothe dogs eventually need to be relieved, optimize the flow of individuals andwhich will then require replacements.mask presentation to the detector dogs. During Phase 2, the dogs andAdditional challenges for MIA and handlers again worked at an employeeother airports interested in similar canine checkpoint, but their new location wasscreening programs include public a much busier environment. Its oneperceptions regarding COVID-19. For thing to show their accuracy in ainstance, some individuals may not feel controlled setting, but when you putcomfortable taking off their masks. This them in a setting with distractions,would need to be addressed if and when such as people trying to pet them,protocols are established for screening this can pose more challenges,passengers. Airports would also need to explains Furton. make it clear that detection dogs provide an additional layer of screening, but As with the first phase,would not eliminate testing.American Airlines personnel were the only participants.As with any new program, efficiency and cost will be key factors. We dont have a shortage of volunteers, Pyatt reports.Once you have a system worked out, We wanted to narrow it downthen the dogs are very cost-effective, to one company because therebecause you can screen a very large are protocols in place if thenumber of people in a very short amount dog detects COVID. So,of time, says Furton. Even with a rapid we wanted to make surePCR or other tests, it takes five minutes; we didnt pick a randomand that might be a significant enough employee who knowsdelay that would make it disruptive. nothing about the process. But if a dog can just walk by within a matter of seconds to screen and doesnt He adds that the study willchange the flow of people getting into a continue based on how wellcheckpoint, then it could be very efficient.the dogs acclimate to busier locations, and how screeningWith potential benefits and challenges operations affect throughput.in mind, MIA officials are reviewing the pilot and considering whether COVID-19 So far, it has been a good fitdetection dogs will be used to screen between us and Florida Internationalother airport workers, visitors and University, he says. Also, Americanpassengers.Airlines has been happy that their employees are volunteering to beThe Future is Telling tested. Its a good marriage all theWe are going to have a meeting way around. with Florida International University to January | February 2022AirportImprovement.com'