AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates –
The bond between a military working dog handler and the military working dog is vital to securing Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, and protecting its deployed members. To ensure this relationship is effective, partnerships were formed between the 380th Expeditionary Medical Group, 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron military dog handlers, and the veterinary staff at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait to provide basic preventative medical service training for the MWDs.
During a quarterly inspection by Veterinarian Theresa Hubbell, these squadron held the first basic health training course here on Nov. 27, 2018.
“Part of our mission is providing veterinary support to the ADAB working dogs,” said U.S. Army Capt. Theresa Hubbell, Area Support Group Kuwait Camp Arifjan veterinary officer in charge. “We came over here and provided basic military working dog health training to the health providers. They expressed their willingness to do so and their leadership wanted us to follow up with some training.”
Due to the distance from veterinary clinic in Kuwait and the services available for MWD at ADAB, Hubbell visited ADAB to perform a quarterly inspection of the MWDs and their living quarters, and provided training for the handlers and Emergency Medical Technicians.
“The nearest civilian vet clinic that we have a relationship with and can adequately support these dogs is located about 45 minutes away,” said Hubbell. “In the case of a true emergency [the medical group] health providers would be expected to respond to that situation and stabilize the animal.”
Training between these different squadrons provides alternative medical options for the MWDs.
“This training is important because we don’t have the services available like stateside bases or bases in Kuwait,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Allen, 380th Expeditionary Security Force Squadron military working dog handler NCOIC. “This training could determine the life and death for these MWDs. They are a huge asset not only for my guys, but for the base.”
“If a MWD were to come in here injured or in need of immediate assistance, we would be able to assist the animal and provide initial care until we can figure out the right place to send the animal,” said Lt Col. David Grounds, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group chief of medical staff.
The training showed tips for handling MWDs, warning signs to look for, and the types of procedures these 380th EMDG providers can perform in emergency scenarios.
“It was a great experience and eye opening,” said Grounds. “The care that we can give them is very similar to a human patient and I wasn’t aware of how similar it was. I think that we would be well prepared just by the fact that our medical knowledge for human care is transferable to a canine patient and I think it would be a little bit of an easier transition than I expected if needed.”
This training is the first step towards building a better course and increasing the capabilities of the MWDs.
“We’re going to build upon that in the next year,” added Hubbell. “Today was just a basic course, next time we’re hoping to do more of an emergency health saving procedures course.
“This training will give us a better working relationship with the EMTs,” said Allen. “If we ever have a situation where they need to be called upon or we have to bring our dogs here then we know they are comfortable and adequately prepared to handle whatever situation they are faced with.”