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Feature Stories

NEWS | June 4, 2019

Army Dog Handlers, Medics Learn Animal First Aid Tips

By Sgt. Zachary Mott Area Support Group - Qatar

Every second counts when it comes to saving a life – human or otherwise. Military working dog handlers and medics from across Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, conducted monthly training to better treat the four legged protectors May 31, 2019.

Led by Soldiers from the 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support, this training featured suturing and basic first aid techniques needed in the moments immediately after an injury to a military working dog.

“It’s good knowledge for us to know so we can administer first aid right away,” said Master at Arms 1st Class Roberto Aguilar, kennel master with the Area Support Group-Qatar K-9 Team. “We already know the basic stuff of heat exhaustion and heat injuries, but this is another step for us to know. A lot of these handlers has never practiced something like this. It helps us do our job easier.”

The majority of injuries sustained by military working dogs here are to their paws, however, the 719th MDVSS team wanted to prepare the handlers and other medical personnel to provide immediate first aid should something more serious occur.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that if anything should happen to any of these military working dogs we still can keep up the fight,” said Capt. Michael Wilson, veterinarian, 719th MDVSS. “Military working dogs actually have an unsung hero aspect to them.”

The intent of the monthly training, Wilson said, is to prepare medics and military working dog handlers to provide immediate life-sustaining care to allow for transportation to a higher level of care, should something occur.

“It saves critical time,” he said. “Just like with humans, having everybody have that basic knowledge of going and placing a tourniquet or going and doing chest decompression or something that could certainly help make that Soldier survive until we can get to the next stage as far as the medical chain is concerned. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to keep that asset, that dog, alive and making sure that we can control the bleeding, control certain situations, stabilize the military working dog until we can get it to the next stage where then we can do more of an assessment. That gives us a little bit more time to be able to do some more critical aspects as far as veterinary medicine is concerned versus out in the field where you’re just being able to stabilize them and ship them back.”
Aguilar said the training is a good opportunity for his team of handlers to keep their skills fresh and also increase their ability to provide a critical asset to the Camp As Sayliyah "Team of Teams."

“The more we do it the better it is and the more it will become muscle memory and we’ll start doing things better for us,” he said. “It will help us in the long run. This is something that we definitely look forward to doing more.”

The next training is planned for the end of June.