NTC, WACH rehearse MEDEVAC of Military Working Dog

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(Photo Credit: Ms. Kristen R Schabert (Army Medicine)

When the alarm rang out for a MEDEVAC, the Soldiers of 2916th Aviation Battalion sprang to action. Then, the call came over the radio that the patient was not your typical MEDEVAC patient… this time, it was a military working dog.

As the teams at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, gear up for another rotation, they practice everything. The “rehearsal” MEDEVAC on Wednesday was nothing out of the ordinary schedule for the units involved, except it involved a simulated furry four-legged Soldier instead of the typical human.

Major Sean Donohue, NTC Surgeon, said rehearsal of critical functions is essential at NTC. Although C Co 2916th is one of busiest military air MEDEVAC units in the world, flying as many missions as some of the busiest deployed units, rehearsals are paramount.

“Typically, our MEDEVAC crews will fly five to eight missions over the course of the 14 days of training, in addition to the support that they provide to the garrison community and even out to parts of the inland empire. MEDEVAC rehearsals are an important part of preparing for a rotation here at NTC; they validate our protocols and identify potential problems we may not have considered previously. NTC has a wide variety of training participants and I wanted to emphasize that this rotation. Military Working Dogs are occasionally part of training here at NTC and we wanted to make sure we were prepared in case one was injured during training, and it is something we have not practiced in a while.”

As the crew of the Blackhawk expertly landed the aircraft, the Crew Chief and Flight Medic ran to take care of the injured patient. The simulated scenario involved an explosion that killed the dogs’ handler and severely wounded the dog, resulting in a probable leg amputation. The medic wrapped the dog’s paw on the flight back to the Weed Army Community Hospital, where the Emergency Room crew was waiting to transport the victim inside for triage. Seeing the patient was a dog, they carefully transported it to the ambulance for a quick ride over to the Vet Clinic, who was waiting with doors open and the Veterinarian standing by to assess and treat the patient.

“I am really pleased with how our rehearsal went today,” Donohue said. “Our flight crews and medics are incredibly proficient and our ER is prepared to receive patients and conserve fighting strength at a moment’s notice. Today’s training was really a surprise to all the players involved and it really validated to the community that everyone knows what to, who to contact and where to go; it really highlighted the readiness of NTC, Weed Army Community Hospital and Public Health Command to meet the needs of our community.”