FORT CARSON, Co. – Company C, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 11th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, hosted medevac hoist training with military working dog (MWD) handlers on Fort Carson, Colorado, June 2-3, 2021.
The military working dog handlers with the 69th Military Police Detachment (MPD) were trained to properly secure their MWD during a medevac hoist if one of the dogs is injured and needs immediate medical care.
“We have a lot of junior soldiers in the kennel right now,” said Capt. Justin Scott, the commander of the 69th MP MWD detachment. “For some of these soldiers, that was the first time experiencing this kind of training with aircraft before.”
For a MWD team that only consists of the handler and their dog, it’s vital that flight paramedics and handlers are familiar with the aircraft and medevac hoist procedures.
The training consisted of an academic portion where senior flight paramedic and standardization instructor, Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez gave classroom instruction to prepare the handlers before they went through the hands-on familiarization exercise with HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters that led into a real-world training scenario.
“Because it’s not a typical thing that happens, we are going to make this a standard,” said Rodriguez. “Between us and the 69th, there’s a great deal of new standards that are going to be established, and all of our flight medics are going to be familiar with them.”
According to Rodriguez, there are various ways a MWD and its handler can be hoisted into the aircraft. The standard that is being formed through the training between C/7-158 and the 69th MPD is advantageous because it has identified safety concerns and mitigates risk to the crew and MWD teams.
“We are able to ensure that the dogs and their handlers remain safe not just in the beginning, but all the way to the end when the dogs are able to receive the next level of care,” said Rodriguez.
Once the crew and handlers secure the dogs in the aircraft, flight medics immediately administer care and keep them stabilized until they arrive at a role three medical treatment facility where a veterinarian can perform surgery on the injured dog.
“Military working dogs aren’t just animals assisting military police, they are actual soldiers, and they deserve the same treatment we would give any soldier,” said Rodriguez. “The 11th ECAB can feel confident that their flight paramedics are taking care of all personnel on the battlefield.”
Flight paramedics not only assist the handlers hoisting MWD teams into the aircraft but also are capable of providing basic veterinary aid.
“We’ll provide everything from basic assessments, all the way to addressing major hemorrhaging, airway concerns, circulation problems, and administering medication,” said Rodriguez. “We can even go so far as decompressing them just as we would any other soldier.”
Training with MWD teams has been a continued effort by C/7-158 to ensure that flight paramedics, crew chiefs, and handlers, are ready to treat MWDs during real-world missions in a variety of theatres that could include combat zones.
“I can rest easy knowing that my soldiers, who very well could deploy in the next year, have this experience,” said Scott. “So if they ever need to do something like this, they have this training and confidence in their toolkit.”