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    Army vet receives help from Air Force medics

    Camp Leatherneck Veterinary Clinic

    Photo By Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz | Capt. Michael Vietti, 451st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Detachment 1...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary 

    U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs   

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – One of the very real possibilities that exist in war is the threat of harm. For the military working dogs serving alongside their human counterparts here, being shot or blown up by improvised explosive devices is a very real threat for them, too.

    In the event something should happen, man’s best friend will receive the same care as his handler. In those all too frequent occasions, the K9s will be medevaced from the battlefield and given immediate medical attention.

    “It takes the stress off when we can make one phone call to the [contingency aeromedical staging facility]. We have been without any vehicles and have been given five-minute notification that a dog is being medevaced or brought in by helicopter,” Army Capt. Brad Fields, 358th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services veterinarian. “The CASF team provides the help we need to get the injured dogs to the best care possible quickly and safely.”

    For the small veterinary clinic here, providing medical care to the multitude of dogs housed here or transient through, it’s a tall order to fill alone, with a small staff and limited resources. That is, until an introduction was made with the 451st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Detachment 1 Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility and an offer to help was received.

    “It started out with me telling them that if they needed anything, we’d be happy to help,” said Lt. Col. Barbara Persons said, 451st EAES Det. 1 CASF commander. “They quickly took us up on our offer. They said the dogs needed baths and needed to be walked and we were all too happy to help.”

    But the first call the CASF received wasn’t to help groom the dogs. Instead, it was a cry for help to pick up a wounded MWD who was being medevaced in.

    “One day, I got a call from Captain Fields and he said he needed a vehicle and wondered if we had an extra,” the colonel said. “I explained that while I couldn’t just hand one over to him, my staff would always be willing to help out if a dog needed to be moved. So, we established a routine that when a dog needed to be picked up or moved, he’d give us a call and we’d transport the animal.”

    This request for help didn’t end there. Soon it became clear that the CASF staff could offer more than just rides to the vet clinic or the hospital. Before long, a fellow physician’s assistant was aiding in surgeries, too.

    “Capt. Fields was having personnel issues so, he had to run the entire show alone,” said. Captain Michael Vietti, 451st EAES Det. 1 CASF physician’s assistant. “So, having a flexible schedule, I offered to help. PAs, in general, have a very diverse knowledge base so I was able to help out with surgeries and other things.”

    A dog lover at heart, the CASF physician’s assistant offered the veterinary staff his free time in order to help alleviate the burden of minimal manning. Deployed environments present opportunities not traditionally available for servicemembers who wish to operate outside of their specialty code.

    “In a perfect world, you would never need to consider using a PA to help out in a vet clinic but in a deployed environment, you do what you can with what you have available,” Captain Vietti said. “I’ve assisted in five surgeries – root canals, two extractions and docking a tail.”

    On a regular basis, the veterinarian staff will conduct entrance and exit exams as well as see to the general welfare of the K9s. Additionally, they will help refresh the MWD handlers’ knowledge of how to care for their dogs while out in the field.

    “We also provide the dog handlers a first aid class to refresh their knowledge on how to care for their dogs by clipping their toe nails regularly, cleaning their ears, and making sure they get their (medications) daily,” said Army Sgt. Adelyn Perez, 358th MDVS animal care specialist. “We also give them a course on how to help their dogs should anything happen to them such as injuries due to blasts, heat or the terrain.”

    Having an Airman on hand to help conduct first aid classes has enables the veterinary staff to focus on other duties within the clinic.

    “I help teach the first aid class because it’s nearly impossible for one person to do everything,” Captain Vietti said. “And, the classes have been too large for just one person to conduct so it’s more effective if we can break them down in size a little and make it a little more personal.”

    Captain Vietti has also helped identify problems that don’t normally affect people. Because Service members wear boots, they are saved the wear and tear the terrain and the tactical vehicles present to military working dogs. In particular, the mine resistant ambush protected vehicles have punch-out holes in the treads of their steps. When a K9 disembarks from the vehicle, more often than not, some part of their paws with gets stuck in the treads and when they jump down, they injure their paws.

    “We were seeing all these injuries to the dogs’ feet so we were able to come up with a simple fix of putting duct tape over the treads, which will help curb a lot of the paw injuries that we’re seeing.”

    Team work, regardless of service branch or nationality, optimizes mission effectiveness – especially when assets are not readily available and shops are undermanned to accommodate mission needs. Thinking outside the box and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to accomplish the mission is what it’s all about for the Service members here.

    “When deployed you just never know what your resources will be. By collaboration and training together we can have the best outcomes possible,” Captain Fields said. “Because everyone is understaffed and we need to pool our resources to provide the best care possible. We can learn from each other regarding different perspectives of human and veterinarian medicine.



    Date Taken: 06.10.2011
    Date Posted: 06.10.2011 00:39
    Story ID: 71878

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