WIESBADEN, Germany – Wiesbaden Veterinary Treatment Facility worked together with the 1-214th General Support Aviation Battalion and the 525th Military Working Dog Detachment to acclimate three military working dogs to helicopter flight during a training exercise Sep. 29, at Clay Kaserne.
Military working dogs play a vital role supporting the U.S. Army in patrolling, arms and explosives searching, drug detection, and police work on installations and in deployed locations where common modes of transportation are not always a given. In the event a MWD and its handler are in medical distress and require medical evacuation, or need to get to a location quickly, sometimes a helicopter is the best option.
“Flying in a helicopter can be a stressful situation for the dogs,“ said Capt. Sarah Laws, officer in charge of the Wiesbaden Veterinary Treatment Facility. “Therefore, it’s important to familiarize the dogs with the helicopter if they haven’t had a chance to fly yet before the real-life event.”
The training gave the handlers and their dogs a chance for hands-on training designed to prepare them both, should the need for medical evacuation arise.
“We started by getting the MWD's used to being inside of the helicopter with nothing on,” said Staff Sgt. Cory Wolfle, plans and operations noncommissioned officer in charge with the 525th Military Police Detachment. “Then we progressed to being in the helicopter with it running and then progressed into loading and a familiarization flight so the dogs could get accustomed to all the sensory dynamics that a running helicopter brings.”
As part of the training orientation process, the dogs were led by their handlers to the flight line and practiced boarding and dismounting the helicopter while the rotors were spinning.
“This training is very valuable,” said Military Working Dog Handler Pfc. David Beadle. “My dog has flown plenty of times and was super chill but I haven’t so this was a great opportunity to gain more experience and to become better prepared.”
Now that the dust has settled and the after-action reports were completed, both the Public Health Activity- Rheinland Pfalz staff and the MWD teams felt the training was valuable.
“We are hoping to set up more training events like this in the future,” said Laws. “Ideally this turns into a quarterly event in which we teach helicopter familiarization and tactical combat casualty care together.”