Better Care for Working Dogs

Better Care for Working Dogs

By Vince Battaglia  Jul 04, 2018

Fifteen law enforcement K9 handlers recently participated in a tactical medical K9 handler course conducted by Valkyries Austere Medical Solutions & Consultants of Anniston Ala. The course was conducted over three days and earned credit from the Georgia POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) Council. 

The course focused on the officer, the K9, and providing tactical medical lifesaving interventions (LSIs) for life-threatening scenes encountered on tactical missions. It provided education and training on the use of individual first aid kits (IFAKs) in the three phases of care under the Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) model. TECC’s recommended MARCHE treatment protocol—for major hemorrhage, airway, breathing/respirations, circulation, head & hypothermia, and everything else—is the foundation of officers’ training for treating themselves, other officers, and their K9 partners at the point of wounding. Other topics included health and wellness, poisonings, heat-related injuries, bloat, and snakebites K9s encounter during deployment. 

Attending officers came from the Metro Atlanta Healthcare Coalition’s Region N, which encompasses Paulding, Cobb, Douglas, and Cherokee counties. The training was paid for by coalition grant funding. 

Data collected revealed that no handlers of narcotics dogs carried naloxone for their K9s, and none of the dogs had had gastropexy to prevent GDV (gastric dilatation and volvulus), commonly called “bloat” (one local canine had been lost to bloat not long before). Eight percent of the officers said they lacked a temperature-monitoring device in their patrol car. 

Each officer received classroom education, collaboration for insight, chances for hands-on application, and, at the end of the training, a K9-specific IFAK funded by the Metro Atlanta Healthcare Coalition Region N Kennesaw outreach program. 

Several recommendations emerged based on responses from a survey of attendees:

  • Vehicles that carry working dogs need to be fitted with working air conditioning units and sensors that will alert offices.
  • Commanders should be more involved in the use of K9 resources instead of using K9s as a reactive specialty resource.
  • Officers should receive education, skills, and practical training in first responding for both themselves and their K9s.

Vince Battaglia has been in flight EMS and the dog community for over 30 years. He has served in the Army and National Guard, deployed to Iraq and other counties. He belongs to three different dog clubs and holds a variety of emergency medical memberships.

What goes into building the educational program at a state show?
The First Responder Emergency Extrication program teaches responders how to extricate occupants from today's advanced vehicles.
Fifty people gathered to learn how to respond to an overdose and were given free Narcan kits.
Six EMSCNJ-affiliated volunteers who are pursuing medical-related careers were each given $1,000 grants.
Bismarck State College received a $100K grant to buy a high-fidelity training manikin and vehicle for nursing program.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Workshop helps small departments successfully earn grants for equipment.
The annual weekend event Urban Shield 2018 uses various mock scenarios to help agencies collaborate and improve their skills.
Albany Technical College students can interact with a manikin patient while instructors observe from a video monitor.
A team of biomedical students have developed a BVM device with pressure control to improve patient outcomes.
For retaining educational content, frequent testing appears the best strategy. 
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection provides evidence-based recommendations to first responders handling calls with a suspected presence of fentanyl.
It helps cardiac arrest victims—but what does it do to nonprofessional rescuers?
For best results, review the old, absorb the new, and focus on your specific needs.
Eight students will receive tuition scholarships for Reading Hospital Foundation's Paramedic Education Program.
Fire and EMS professionals interested in speaking should consider topics that address the improvement of pre-hospital outcomes clinically, financially, or operationally.