CHIEVRES, Belgium – Chièvres Veterinary Treatment Facility hosted an international military working dog tactical combat casualty care training event for U.S. Army and Air Force military working dog handlers, medical personnel and host nation police on July 20.
Military working dogs play a crucial role in the military. But most often, when deployed and injured, it is their handlers and medical staff who are first on the scene to provide first aid until a veterinarian can provide treatment. Not only do the military working dog handlers need to be trained to provide tactical care to their canines, all individuals who interact and work with the dogs and their partners need to be trained as well.
“At the Veterinary Treatment Facility, we provide care to the military working dogs to ensure that they are ready to deploy at any given time,” said Sgt. Kasey Smith, animal care technician at the Chièvres Veterinary Treatment Facility. “Down range, a dog might need emergency care before a veterinary team is on site, therefore I am excited to train others on how to practice realistic point-of-injury care that they are comfortable with and able to execute when needed.”
During the training, the U.S. Army and Air Force handlers, medical staff from the Brussels Health Clinic and Belgian police force working dog handlers focused on assessing and treating for massive hemorrhage, airway obstruction, respiratory distress, circulation, head injury and hypothermia, also known as the MARCH method.
“MARCH is used by TCCC-trained individuals to address the most life-threatening injuries first,” added Smith. “The biggest difference for canine casualty care is an extra “M” in the beginning to represent muzzling the military working dog first to avoid unintentional biting during treatment.”
Tactical combat casualty care training is part of the individual critical task lists for medical personnel but it is solely focused on human care.
Maj. Keith Garcia, officer in charge of the Brussels Health Clinic, was among ten participants from the Brussels Health Clinic.
“None of us has had any experience with military working dogs before this training,” said Garcia. “It helped us to build a relationship with the other branches of service, but most importantly, we learned how to assist when in need and be more comfortable in providing the same level of care to our service members, both canine and human.”
According to Smith, it is important to establish the same baseline of training and knowledge to provide support to each other.
“The big difference between our canines, and the ones in the military, is that we do not deploy,” said Kris Lucas, a Belgian Police working dog handler. “The kind of injury that our canines might experience is different than a combat wound, but hemorrhage or stab wounds are common. This training was a great opportunity to see different perspectives, share expertise and see what is possible and needed.”
The 2022 National Defense Strategy states that the U.S. must prioritize interoperability and have the front line of defense medically trained to the point of feeling and being proficient in the act of saving their partners’ lives.
Public Health Activity- Rheinland Pfalz provides veterinary support to all military communities in Germany and Belgium, encompassing sanitary audits of commercial food establishments and provision of food safety/defense and animal medicine.
To support its mission, the activity operates eight Army Veterinary Treatment Facilities in Germany, one in Belgium, and the Veterinary Medical Center Europe - the Army's premier, forward-deployed Role 3 medical and surgical center for Military Working Dogs.