RAMSTEIN, GERMANY—U.S. Army Veterinarians and animal care technicians from Veterinary Medical Center Europe trained over 40 joint force providers from the 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight team on treatment and management of military working dogs at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The event provided hands-on training regarding military working dog behavior, treatment of heat injuries, and the use of human equipment to take and monitor a MWD’s vital signs.
"When a MWD is injured, we rely on medical care and transportation provided by human medical assets. The more we can train together, the better prepared we can all be to respond to MWD emergencies,"
said Maj. Gretchen Powers, executive officer and veterinarian at Public Health Activity-Rheinland Pfalz.
"This collaboration enabled the flight team to observe MWD behavior, allowed the veterinary team to understand flight logistics and resources, and provided a novel training scenario for the handlers to acclimate the MWDs to an aircraft."
The 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight, under the 13th Operations Support Squadron, transports injured service members via aircraft from deployed locations to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, or other accommodating hospitals, while providing medical support.
On occasion, there might be an injured MWD on board the aircraft as well.
This was the first time the 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight received the training. It helped flight medics and nurses become more familiar with handling, management, evaluation and treatment, as well as understanding the vital signs of military working dogs.
"It is important that veterinary personnel establish relationships and train human health care providers on how to treat MWDs,"
said Capt. Kelly McCormick, officer in charge of outpatient services at Veterinary Medical Center Europe.
"Most times, human health care providers will be the first line of care for the MWDs in deployed settings, so teaching them the clinical practice guidelines on the differences between medical care for animals versus humans can be the difference in saving a MWD's life."
A working dog handler typically accompanies injured MWDs but if the handler is not present, it is on the flight nurses to provide care for the MWD.
The 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight team trained on a military working dog mannequin and had the opportunity to observe exams on live MWDs.
"Training with a mannequin has shown to be extremely beneficial, especially with our realistic K9 Hero and Diesel models which can be programmed to bark, whimper, and even bleed, with interchangeable body parts that mimic amputations, burns, and other injuries,"
said Sgt. Marielena Diaz, MWD section noncommissioned officer in charge at Veterinary Medical Center Europe.
"However, it is always best to have some training with live MWDs because sometimes they are so stoic, the only way we can tell something is wrong is by taking vital signs or performing the exams using our K9 Tactical Combat Casualty Care algorithms."
Besides highlighting the difference between medical care and veterinary care, the training helped the flight care team to gain familiarity with procedures and to help and assist, rather than hinder a handler during a flight.
According to medical officials, Public Health Activity-Rheinland Pfalz and the 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron are looking forward to growing their relationship and paving the way for future collaborative efforts between VMCE and the 86th Airlift Wing.