Nov. 26--RIO GRANDE -- Emergency medical responders from across the Ohio Valley converged on the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College campus this past Saturday for course in emergency medicine for the four-legged officers of the area.
The course, organized by K9 officers Lt. Matt Champlin of the Gallipolis Police Department and Sgt. Josh Davies of the Rio Grande Police Department was presented by Brian Hendrickson, DVM, of the Riverbend Animal Clinic.
According to Hendrickson, offering the class to local K9 handlers, as well as local emergency medical service personnel, is critical as a means to help prevent the loss of any K9 officers in the field.
"We had the police dog a few years ago get stabbed, and, from that time on, and, even before that, we worked with the handlers and, we've even done more since, because these dogs have no fear of the situation. They don't know that they could get hurt and they just do it because they are told to do it and it's their job. They put themselves in harm's wary just as their handlers do everyday," Hendrickson said. "These guys love their dogs and we do too, and, so, if we can make a difference at all in any situation, then it's worth my time to help these guys save one of these dogs because they are critical. They find the drugs, they help the cops all the time."
Hendrickson reported that the class was basically a first aid class teaching EMS personnel and the K9 handlers what they can do at the scene in the event that a K9 officer is injured -- aid that could be used to stabilize the dog until it can be transported to a veterinarian.
"This is what to do before they can get to a veterinary facility," Hendrickson said. "If I can teach them one thing that they can do that reduces the chances of that dog dying, then it will help."
Hendrickson further reported that, as trained emergency medical responders, those in attendance for Saturday's class already have the background knowledge needed to provide first aid to K9 officers.
"A lot of the medicine is the same. A person in shock, a gun shot person, is the same as gun shot dog, but you have to know where the veins are to hit them and you have to know what the differences are and that's what we were trying to push here," Hendrickson said. "There is nothing really that they need to carry different, they just need to know the differences when it comes to that critical moment."
Following the program, Champlin, on behalf of his fellow K9 handlers, spoke of the importance in organizing the class to prepare for any future emergency situations involving their dogs.
"Our dogs are placed in situations on a common, day-to-day basis where they can incur mass trauma or drug overdoses or heat stroke or any type of traumatic event like that," Champlin said. "It's important, number one, for us to know how to do it. Number two, the reason that we pulled the EMS into this realm is because they are more familiar with anatomy, not just of a person, but of a dog, and how do things intravenously, and things of that nature, that we don't know how to do. So, we want to be able to partner with them, so, in light of a traumatic event, they can use their skills to prolong our dog's life or help us stabilize them in a fashion that we wouldn't know the proper steps to do."
In attendance on Saturday were members of the Gallia County EMS, Mason County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Mason County EMS, Jackson County EMA, Ohio Special Response Team units, Portsmouth Ambulance, Bluffington EMS and Meigs County EMS.
Law enforcement officers with the Rio Grande Police Department, Gallipolis Police Department, Gallia County Sheriff's Office, Middleport Police Department, Meigs County Sheriff's Office, Oak Hill Police Department, Jackson Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Putnam County Sheriff's Office, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Springfield Police Department, Clark County Sheriff's Office, Circleville Police Department, Pickaway County Sheriff's Office, South Bloomfield Police Department and the Belmont County Sheriff's Office were in attendance.