Florida officers learn K-9 trauma care at Jacksonville training center

K-9 officer Scott Stevenson quickly approached Diesel, moaning and lying on the ground and bleeding from serious injuries.

When Stevenson slipped a soft snout on her, the moans turned into a growl.

“Alright, get it out of the way,” Triad medical training Founder Matthew Casey urged the Jacksonville sheriff’s officer, who moved his fake K-9 partner, then began wrapping one of his legs in a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

“Wrap it tight,” Casey added.

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Diesel is actually a fancy simulated police K-9 that looks and sounds like the real thing. Stevenson was one of 45 officers and deputies from nine local and state law enforcement agencies in attendance Thursday K9s United Emergency Medical Services training at the Northeast Florida Criminal Justice Center in Jacksonville.

Stevenson said his real K-9 partner is Tyr, 3, and he was never hurt, “just a few nicks and cuts. But because Diesel’s fake blood covered Stevenson’s hands, he got said this workout was close to what he might like to help a K-9.

“You can feel the chest move with the breath, you can hear the growl,” he said. “So obviously I can see the blood pumping. It makes it look very realistic instead of being static, like ‘Here’s a bandage, put it on.’ “”

Jacksonville K-9 officer Scott Stevenson wears a realistic dog training dummy to treat his injuries during training Thursday for K-9 teams across the state.  The dummy dog, which is breathing, whining and growling, is wearing a safety muzzle that Stevenson has put on.

As Casey prepared another officer for a drill to “rescue” Diesel, he said they were working to create realistic scenarios so officers were ready for the “controlled chaos” of an actual injury.

“There’s not much the classroom can do. It’s as realistic as we can do with Diesel by having him bleed and having the anatomical position correct,” the retired officer said. “…A lot of times dog handlers walk into the area, and it almost looks like it’s their real dog that’s been hit. Some people who’ve been through this in real life become sensitive to it. It brings it back a bit. “

At the Florida Legislature

K9s United, which provides training, equipment, medical supplies and kennels to officers and their dogs at agencies across the country, hosted Thursday’s training. Debbie Johnson, who founded the nonprofit in 2015 after St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Baron was killedsaid it followed Florida Senate Bill 388 which they helped form.

Approved in July, it allows a paramedic or emergency medical technician to provide emergency medical care to injured K-9 police officers, or even transport them to emergency veterinary care.

The first local use of the bill came after the fatal late September shooting in Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers when Chaos K-9 was shot while searching for suspect Patrick McDowell. New state law allowed Chaos to be transported in an ambulance for emergency veterinary surgery. He has recovered and is back on duty with his partner, Agent D. Cullen.

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Because Cullen had gone to one of those K-9 medical sessions, he was able to start an IV on Chaos when Nassau Fire and Rescue didn’t know how to do it, Johnson said. Now more officers need to learn how to help their canine partners, she said.

“That’s why it’s so important, and we want to do more,” Johnson said. “We run free advanced training seminars in Florida and across the United States for dog handlers. But after the passage of SB 388, it’s so important for us to start focusing on these first aid courses, not just for dog handlers.”

Jacksonville K-9 officer Matt Herrera was there Thursday, well aware of the dangers facing a police dog on a mission.

Jacksonville K-9 officer Scott Stevenson applies a tourniquet to Diesel's severed fake front leg, a lifelike dog training dummy, during K9s United practice.

At On September 30, 2018, he took out his K-9 Fang to hunt Carjacking suspect Jhamel Paskel after a 120 mph chase on Interstate 10, police said. Fang caught up with Paskel, then 17, near highways 10 and 295. But the dog was shot in the head and chest, police said. When Paskel was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the shooting, Herrera spoke at the court hearing of her 3-year-old dog barks after the first shot, then carries her dead partner to her police unit.

Partnering with Ghost just weeks after Paskel’s arrest, Herrera said it was important to train to help K-9 partners in what he called “high-responsibility work.” And that’s even more important not only because Fang was shot and killed, but another K-9 was shot down while searching for Moyers’ killer.

“That’s why this seminar is so important,” Herrera said. “This dog was able to be transported by Fire-Rescue, which saved his life. It was only because of previous legislation that K9s United was responsible for. … Taking this course with a dog dummy can cause myriad of injuries to address us is just unbelievable.”

Prepare for the real deal

Triad, based in Broward County since 2018, trains civilians and police in what Casey calls tactical medicine. He trains them in tactical emergency care, like how to help victims of active shooters. Now he’s also working with K-9 officers to help their dogs survive, Casey said.

Speaking to officers ahead of some of the drills, Casey urged them to “know your K-9’s vitals.” Then he supervised some exercises.

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“You don’t get a second chance,” said the retired SWAT officer and member of the US Marine Corps. “Time is critical. You only have a few minutes to stop the bleeding. … You almost have to take a minute, pull yourself together and do it right.”

Officers from agencies in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach, as well as Gainesville, Orlando, Putnam County and Nassau County joined the Liberty County Georgia Sheriff’s Office and Bureau of Fire Investigations , Florida Arson and Explosives during Thursday’s training.

Since they can now carry a police K-9 in a rescue unit, paramedics from Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Clay and Liberty counties joined Jacksonville Fire and Rescue for training Friday at the training center in police at 4715 Capper Road, Florida side. State College on Jacksonville North Campus.

Diesel, a realistic dog training model, is treated for a chest injury before his severed leg is treated as part of K9s United's statewide training in Jacksonville.

Thursday’s training included how to care for K-9 injuries, shock prevention and treatment, injury management and how to move an injured dog, using the realistic training manikin that costs around $40,000. This included learning how to muzzle an injured dog to prevent it from biting, as well as stemming blood flow from an injury.

“Having that training makes you more comfortable being uncomfortable, which should be every police officer’s motto,” Herrera said. “…Going through that medical training takes it to another level and it makes us so much more prepared to do the job. It’s just for the injury, not to mention the gunshots that come our way when we try to do the job. medical.”

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The training dummy is so realistic his chest rises and falls as if breathing, and Casey can make him moan, bark and even growl on command. That’s what happened when officers took part in a mock shooting situation, driving to find Diesel injured on the ground as a mock shooter fled into the woods.

As an officer exchanged gunfire with the fake shooter, his partners moved Diesel to safety behind the police cruiser. Casey watched as officers muzzled Diesel, then attended to the chest wound and severed leg. Within a minute, Diesel’s injuries were treated as the ‘shooter’ was ordered to the ground and handcuffed.

In addition to training sessions for K-9s and their officers, K9s United offers emergency first aid kits, harnesses, leashes, chew toys, specialty items like bite sleeves, jumpsuits and muzzles, even kennels and bulletproof vests. It raises funds through the sale by the State of a K9s United license plate, $25 from each purchase going to the St. Augustine-based operation.

[email protected], (904) 359-4549

Milton S. Rodgers