VICENZA, Italy - The Vicenza Veterinary Treatment Facility staff combined forces recently with combat medics from the 2nd Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and handlers from 525th Military Working Dog Detachment at Caserma Ederle, Italy, to conduct canine tactical combat casualty care training.
The students were comprised of combat medics, military working dog handlers, animal care specialists and veterinary food inspectors from across U.S. Army Garrison Italy.
The purpose of the course was to provide participants the knowledge and skills required to administer immediate medical aid to military working dogs who are injured in a hostile threat environment.
Capt. Anna Jiang, a veterinarian and officer-in-charge of the Vicenza Veterinary Treatment Facility hosted the first ever training course.
“The goal was to enable combat medics the ability to transfer their existing medical skills to canine patients to better understand their basic anatomy and vital signs,” said Jiang. “They also conducted physical exams in order to determine how to properly triage an injured canine. The K9 course is critical first aid training for combat medics.”
The course combined didactic classroom instruction along with practical hands-on training, including airway obstruction, tracheal intubation, tracheostomy, and analgesic injection.
“In order to train on invasive procedures they used a K9 HERO device which is a full body medical training mannequin,” added Jiang.
According to veterinary experts, the HERO is a K-9 simulator constructed to mimic a Belgian Malinois and provides critical life-saving task simulation. The mannequin has special features, which can be modified using a remote control, including an adjustable pulse, bleeding trauma sites, an airway for endotracheal tube placement, an IV training site, and a chest that rises and falls with ventilation.
Jiang stated, cross-training combat medics is essential for ensuring a high-level of resuscitative care for military working dogs as far forward as possible on the battlefield.
“Veterinary teams are rarely present at the point of injury,” said Jiang. “Instead, first responders are typically the actual handlers and combat medics. It is our responsibility as veterinarians to do everything in our ability to teach Army medical personnel how to triage working dogs to maximize their survival until they can receive definitive veterinary care.”