Memorial Hermann Life Flight® launched its K9-Casualty Care Course (K9-CCC) and Transportation Service Thursday, December 1, 2020, making Life Flight the first air ambulance service in the nation to provide training, treatment and transportation for injured K9 officers.
The K9-CCC program provides K9 handlers with emergency care training for their K9s including wound packing, poison control, CPR and tourniquet use. As part of the training, each handler receives a K9 specific Individualized First Aid Kit (IFAK), which includes wound packing material, gloves, CPR mask for human-to-K9 CPR and a tourniquet. Handlers are also trained on when it is appropriate to call Life Flight for severely injured K9s. The program operates under the four pillars of teach, train, treat and transport.
Life Flight paramedics and nurses participated in specialized training, developed and approved by Houston veterinarians, Jeff Chalkley, DVM of Westbury Animal Hospital and Michael Seely, DVM, of VERGI 24/7 Animal Emergency and Critical Care Hospital.
K9s in need of critical medical care, who are within Life Flight’s 150-mile radius, will be transported to one of three veterinary hospitals: Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, VERGI 24/7 Animal Emergency and Critical Care Hospital or Westbury Animal Hospital. Each location has 24-hour access and is equipped with a designated area for Life Flight to land.
Life Flight’s K9-CCC program is the first non-government agency program in the nation to provide care and transport to injured K9s through an established protocol and policy, according to the Texas Operational Canine Committee.
The simulator K9 used during training is named Jake, a tribute to the founder of Life Flight, Dr. James “Red” Duke’s dog. In 2016, under the leadership of Chief Flight Nurse Rudy Cabrera, and Life Flight Outreach Education Coordinator George Tarver III, Life Flight began developing the K9-CCC program.
There are an estimated 200 police canines in the Greater Houston area. Agencies were able to enroll in training programs which began in April 2019. Since then, 210 K9 handlers and 40 emergency medical services and fire personnel have been trained on treating their injured K9. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Life Flight has limited the amount of classes they are able to conduct each month.
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