AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – For the first time at Aviano Air Base, approximately 40 31st Medical Group technicians conducted joint ‘trauma care under fire’ training with the 31st Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog K-9 unit, at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 12, 2022.
Participating 31st MDG members included nurses, doctors, Independent Duty Medical Technicians and more. The members practiced providing Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) on K-9 and human mannequins. Although there are minor differences, the intent behind TCCC is the same as Self Aid Buddy Care (SABC).
“You're supposed to practice TCCC as if you're under gunfire,” said Gene Bryan, 31st MDG Education and Training medical simulation operator. “You have to get the patient out of harm's way and treat them, learn how to transport and get them out of there. One goal is to have people be more aware of what treatment procedures they're doing and how they're doing it.”
TCCC is standardized across all branches of the military and helps prepare medical personnel and MWD handlers for what they could encounter in a work or deployed environment.
“I think this training helps medical personnel and handlers get ready for something they could experience,” said Bryan. “We teach them to keep themselves safe and keep the individuals they’re looking after safe. That's what the training is all about, just being as prepared as you can and then taking those skills you learned with you when you're called to deploy.”
During the training, medical personnel had the opportunity to practice treatment procedures on a K-9 trauma simulator for the first time.
“The K-9 simulator is a high fidelity training platform designed to provide medics and K-9 handlers the opportunity to practice realistic care for military working K-9s that incur traumatic injuries, whether that be in a deployed area or at home station,” said Bryan.
The simulator includes features such as an airway with adjustable breathing, panting, intubation (insertion of tube into airway for oxygen/anesthesia), IV and tourniquet training, barking, whimpering, growling and more.
Three different scenarios put the medical personnel's skills to the test.
The first scenario featured the K-9 simulator and a human mannequin that represented a MWD handler. The medical personnel ‘treated’ the patients, which had simulated landmine injuries.
“If a K-9 gets hurt, there's a good chance that the handler also gets hurt,” said Bryan. “The preface of our training is to put those two together. We're going to have to work on taking care of both of them.”
The second scenario simulated an individual with head trauma and seizures. The team treated the patient using a 9-line method and called in a medevac. During this process, the team gave a representative a standardized 9-point description of what's going on.
In the third scenario, medical personnel had the opportunity to get hands-on training with an actual MWD and ‘treat’ the dog. U.S. Air Force Maj. Aaron Mangubat, 31st MDG Education and Training flight commander, lectured on the procedures needed to treat a MWD if it sustained trauma injuries.
“During day-to-day operations, it’s the handler’s job to stabilize and get the dog to the vet clinic,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rice, 31st SFS MWD kennel master. “If we’re forward deployed, an IDMT would be with us and help stabilize the dog until we get to that clinic or the dog gets medevaced. It’s good for the medical personnel to be familiar with how to do TCCC on the dogs.”
The measures taken to treat a human versus to treat a dog are similar, although there are some differences.
“A dog’s vital signs, such as breathing and heart rate, are different from humans,” said Bryan. “When we try to put artificial airways in the dogs, they have long muzzles and long necks, so we have to use giant ones. We also have to learn how to sedate them so we can do these procedures.”
The 31st MDG helps maintain the medical readiness of the 31st Fighter Wing by providing care for Airmen, whether that be in a deployed environment or at home station.
“Not a lot of medical emergencies happen at Aviano,” said Bryan. “When they do happen, it shouldn't be our first time to see a real one. We see patients for basic necessities everyday but we never see what we probably will see out in the field, the traumas and things of that nature. That's why we have to practice this.”