KAISERSLAUTERN, RP, GERMANY
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The 67th Forward Surgical Team conducted training with the military working dog handlers from the 100th Military Working Dog Detachment and the veterinary staff of the Dog Center Europe at Pulaski Barracks, Germany, December 5 – 14.
The focus of the training was to ensure the team was ready and capable of providing emergency surgical and resuscitative care to military working dogs in a deployed setting.
Forward surgical teams are often the closest asset with surgical capability to the point of injury and can be the difference between life and death for any critically wounded Soldier. In the military, MWDs are treated with the same urgency as any other wounded Soldier although they can present different challenges for surgeons, nurses, and medics who are primarily accustomed to human patients.
“The 67th FST has conducted a block of education, to include both didactic and practical training with the veterinarians at Pulaski, the MP handlers and MWDs to ensure the FST is capable and prepared to care for all of our soldiers, human or canine,” said Maj. Linda C.Benavides FST Team Chief, “Military working dogs protect us humans in time of war and we need to be able reciprocate and take care of them should the need arise."
The training was conducted with two aspects in mind. The first encompassed working with MWDs and their handlers and learning aspects of caring for patients that could harm the Soldiers trying to care for them.
Sgt. Nicholas A. Milano and Sgt. Kenneth Mendez, dog handlers with the 100th MWDD, brought MWD Lion, a patrol explosive detector dog, and MWD Dark, a patrol drug detector dog, to provide the Soldiers of the FST with valuable information. They familiarized the team with safe and proper handling of MWDs, basic medical care, and capabilities of these four-legged Soldiers.
“In a deployed environment, there may not always be a veterinarian or a veterinary technician readily available to assist with an injured military working dog,” said Milano. “This training gave us, as handlers, an opportunity to teach the 67th FST how to properly handle and treat a military working dog. We were able to teach how to properly hold and examine an MWD as well as how to react when one may become aggressive or bite.”
“I really enjoyed learning some basic medical care for MWDs and to see the interactions that the dogs have with their handlers,” said Maj. Elizabeth Kassulke, emergency room nurse and officer in charge of Advanced Trauma Life Support. “After being chased and taken to the ground by MWD Lion in a matter of seconds, I was amazed to see the discipline and power that these MWDs possess.”
The second aspect of the training involved the team participating in canine surgery, which most of the members of the team had little or no experience with. Prior to the training, the team conducted a review of the Clinical Practice Guidelines for military working dogs and over the course of three days, members of the team worked at the Dog Center Europe starting intravenous catheters, placing endotracheal tubes, and assisting Maj. (Dr.) Lane A. Hansen, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Director of Dog Center Europe, with surgery.
“The opportunity to invite the FST into our veterinary hospital and spend a couple of days together discussing and providing patient care is a great means to educate their team about similarities and differences in veterinary patient care,” said Hansen. “Expanding their knowledge and awareness of how to apply their skills to military working dogs could be key to saving injured canine patients (when veterinary assets are not available).”
“I found the experience very valuable, said Capt. Jason R. Maan, certified registered nurse anesthetist. “ Although I could read the anesthesia CPGs for military working dogs, there is no substitute for active participation under the supervision of a subject matter expert.”
Maj. Joshua A. Scott, a general surgeon, gained valuable insight while assisting with veterinary surgery. He discovered not only similarities but also differences between his human patients and his potential canine patients.
“Performing surgery on a dog is a lot like performing surgery on a human. However, there are many subtle differences and it’s knowing these differences that can have a drastic change on the outcome,” said Scott. “What struck me the most is how much more resilient canine patients are compared to human patients. You can do major surgery on a human and he or she will be laid out for days. However, you perform a nearly equivalent surgery on a dog and he’ll be up and running around 15 minutes later like nothing ever happened.”
In just over a week, the surgeons, nurses, and medics of the FST developed a greater knowledge of working with and treating MWDs. They will be put to the test during a Field Training Exercise scheduled in January, which will involve the 100 th MWDD and the 64th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services Support, and C Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, an aeromedical evacuation unit out of Grafenwoehr, Germany.
“Learning about the MWDs in regards to medical treatment and handling was beneficial and eye opening,” said Pfc. Marisol Sanchez, Advanced Trauma Life Support Medic. “It is definitely something I never thought I would have to encounter as a medic.”
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This work, Surgical soldiers get their paws dirty, by MAJ Chris Angeles, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.