By Story by Capt. Travis Mueller
28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade
U.S. Army Sgt. Carlos Patino has been a civilian nurse for eight years and flight nurse for three years, but this was the first time he ever treated a dog for cardiac arrest.
“I am going to be completely honest and tell you that the training for medics to treat military working dogs has been very minimal,” said Patino. “There was no training that would have prepared us for this situation.”
Patino and fellow flight medic Staff Sgt. Felicia Jensen, both with Charlie Company, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, had just recently arrived in the Middle East where the 28th ECAB is deployed in support of Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Patino was finishing his shift when he heard that there was a Soldier who was suffering from cardiac arrest. Since there was only one other medic on shift at the time, he jumped on the medevac flight as a second medic. They eventually learned that the patient was a military working dog.
After doing an assessment in the air, Patino’s civilian background kicked in. He was familiar with medication that was administered to Bailey, the dog, prior to the incident; and while some suspected a drug overdose, Patino understood that she was in shock due to dehydration and widened blood vessels.
He performed calculations to determine the fluids and medications needed to stabilize the dog while Jensen maintained the airway and provided rescue respirations.
“All our interventions were based on educated guesses, for we do not have the equipment that would allow us to assess the level of dehydration,” said Patino. “Therefore, we based our interventions on the limited information we gathered from our rapid assessment.”
The aircrew also provided emotional support to the dog’s handler and veterinary tech. After staying with the dog for 45 minutes at the emergency department, Patino said the dog was finally stabilized. A veterinarian there mentioned that the dog was one of the few who had ever survived that type of incident.
“All lab results supported the reasoning behind our treatments,” said Patino.
Though flight medic training is focused on treating human patients, Patino credits the aircrew’s communication as an important factor that led to saving the dog’s life.
28th ECAB flight medics are committed to their duties, even if it involves treating another species than what they are specifically trained. But in this case, persistence and civilian experience helped.
“The flight lasted less than five minutes, but it seemed like an eternity,” said Patino. “Bailey has been through a lot, but she did not suffer any neurological deficits secondary to the cardiac arrest, in part because of how aggressively we treated her.”
Bailey will travel to Germany where she will receive further monitoring and care.
Patino is studying to become a certified registered nurse practitioner while Jensen is working on a bachelor of science in nursing.
The other aircrew members on the medevac aircraft were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Murtha, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stratton and Staff Sgt. Kody Lupton, with a second “chase” aircraft manned by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Lundgren, Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Smith, Staff Sgt. Jason Rex and Staff Sgt. Joshua Shuster.
(Capt. Nathan Bevans and Sgt. Carissa Diggs contributed to this story)
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