Military personnel of all branches train alongside one another on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for the common goal of readiness. This time, that training focused on warfighters of the four-legged type - military working dogs (MWD).
“This training improved the medical readiness of MWDs through examinations and dental procedures. It improved the technical proficiency of 10 animal health technicians and three veterinary corps officers,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Rachel Mayfield, branch chief of veterinary services. “It also improved the medical proficiency for the handlers to perform point of injury care to their MWDs.”
The training brought together Marines of 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion and the 248th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support out of Fort Bragg. This is the first training of its kind.
Training presented a dual-purpose approach. Veterinarians and animal health technicians performed neuter surgeries, dental procedures and wellness checks on the MWDs while Soldiers worked with the Marine K9 handlers on how to care for their canine counterparts when injured.
Marines ran through various injury scenarios their MWD may experience during warfare or training. When a MWD is injured their Marine acts as the first responder, explained Mayfield, as veterinarians are not always within immediate reach in all wartime situations. Over the course of two days, the 248th trained approximately 20 Marine MWD handlers.
Marines practiced on canine dummies, performing various life-saving techniques for injuries such as gunshot wounds and broken limbs.
“The scenario on day one was cold injury, gunshot wound, pneumothorax [collapsed lung] and fracture stabilization,” Mayfield said. “Day two included heat injury, IED blast injury and CPR.”
MCB Camp Lejeune has several Army veterinarians on the installation under the oversight of the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Department of Public Health.
“Since the Department of the Navy does not have veterinarians, the Army veterinarians work closely with public health in garrison and deployed settings through health education and the prevention and surveillance of animal, zoonotic and foodborne diseases,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Emily Owens, director for public health with NMCCL.
With the first joint training successfully completed, Mayfield plans for similar educational opportunities for MWD units on MCB Camp Lejeune.
“The goal is to continue conducting this training on a quarterly basis to improve medical readiness of MWDs and deployment readiness for animal care providers and handlers.”