By Michelle Thum, PHCE Public AffairsNovember 1, 2018
Animal care specialists from Public Health Activity- Italy participated in a five-day training summit Oct. 22-25 in Vicenza, Italy, designed to increase technical skills and mission readiness.
Ten animal care specialists from branches in Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom attended the semi-annual training.
An animal care specialist is primarily responsible for the comprehensive care of government-owned animals such as military working dogs. They are also responsible for the prevention and control of diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
During the training, the Soldiers learned critical skills needed to ensure they are able to support the veterinarian they are working with.
The training was organized by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Whitaker, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Vicenza Branch. She said the training was not only military occupation specialty-specific, but also included Soldier-skills.
"The training focused on developing the Animal Care Specialists of Public Health Activity-Italy by reengaging on perishable skills and by teaching and credentialing tasks that are mandated semi-annually. These tasks are not just MOS specific, but develop the tactical skills of the Soldiers by engaging in Army Warrior Tasks and Drills." Whitaker said.
She went on to say that "The training assisted in developing relationships, strengthening skills, and making a stronger medical force for our Army."
Course instructors included senior active-duty officers and noncommissioned officers and training included hands-on practice on live animals in addition to theoretical lessons.
Maj. Renee Krebs, Veterinary Medical Center Europe Deputy Director, taught the animal care specialists how to assist veterinarians in surgical procedures, emergency medical techniques and how to use emergency drugs. The attendees valued the participation of a surgeon because they had the opportunity to discuss difficult cases and share their experiences.
Cpt. Jennifer Safko, veterinarian and PHA-I executive officer, brought in her dog, Sawyer, to teach the Soldiers how to perform physical examinations on a dog and use an ultrasound machine.
Safko said, "The animal care specialist summit brings together subject matter experts to exchange information, learn cutting edge medical techniques, and master Army warrior tasks in order to improve readiness. Learning tasks on a live dog rather than on a dummy is a great opportunity for our animal care specialists since it requires quick actions and situational adjusted behavior. During this training they had the chance to conduct exams on large animals, such as horses, which is rare for our [animal care specialists] in Europe who see [military working dogs] and privately owned animals, mostly cats and dogs, on a daily basis."
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