Dog down: Effort helps emergency medical staff treat law enforcement K-9s

phys.org | 2/15/2019 | Staff
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Recognizing a gap in care for law enforcement K-9s injured on the job, a team of veterinarians, emergency medical services experts and canine handlers has developed protocols for emergency medical service personnel who may be called upon to help treat and transport the injured dogs.

The protocols appear in a special report in the medical journal Prehospital and Disaster Medicine.

Law - Enforcement - K-9s - Face - Dangers

Law enforcement K-9s face the same dangers their human handlers confront, said Dr. Maureen A. McMichael, a professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois who led the effort to develop the protocols. Dogs on the job are sometimes shot or experience blunt force trauma, smoke inhalation, opioid drug exposure or other potentially life-threatening injuries.

While a few states are beginning to allow EMS personnel to treat and transport law enforcement K-9s to emergency veterinary facilities when those workers are not busy with human patients, little guidance or training is available to help them care for canine patients, said McMichael, who also is on the faculty of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine at the U. of I. The new protocols begin to address this shortfall, she said.

Emergency - Personnel - Aspects - Care - Knowledge

"Emergency medical personnel are well-trained in all aspects of prehospital care, but few are trained to apply their knowledge to canine patients," she said. "Our goal is to help them adapt their training to also serve the needs of law enforcement K-9 patients."

Such training is as important to the health and well-being of the EMS personnel as it is to the dogs, McMichael said. Even the best-trained dogs sometimes bite their handlers or others in moments of distress or confusion. With a maximum bite force of 800 pounds per square inch, the dogs can severely injure anyone nearby.

Treatments - Danger - Example - Naloxone—which

Some treatments may even enhance the danger. For example, naloxone—which may be administered to counter the dangerous...
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