Yokota Air Base, Japan --
Airmen assigned to the 459th Airlift Squadron, 374th Security Forces Squadron and 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES), worked together with Soldiers assigned to the Public Health Activity – Japan (PHA-J), Veterinary Treatment Facility (VTF), to participate in a C-12J, K-9 air evacuation training, August 20, 2020.
The training focused on K-9 evacuation procedures on a 459th AS C-12J Huron and provided 374th SFS military working dog handlers and AES crews with hands-on medical response scenarios focusing on patient parameters, en route requirements and basic care and treatment of common Military Working Dog injuries.
By further developing this capability, the Airmen and Soldiers are able to respond more efficiently as they transport MWDs to better-equipped facilities within the area of responsibility.
“Ensuring the MWDs are fit to fight is as high a priority as the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen they support,” said Capt. Nicholas Strobel, 459th AS C-12J instructor pilot. “This means that if one is injured or requires higher medical care than is available at their current location, the 18th AES will ensure they are transported safely and comfortably to those facilities.”
“This capability remains a rare but important task for the canine and veterinary support team,” said U.S. Army Capt. James Gaffney, PHA-J, VTF OIC. “Smaller Veterinary Treatment Facilities are not set up with personnel and equipment for prolonged or complicated medical cases. Conducting an exercise to rehearse the steps and develop a common operational picture between the human and veterinary medical teams is important to streamline future movement of animals.”
Understanding these operational barriers, what equipment is available on-board the aircraft, what challenges they can potentially face and how to best respond when moving these animals was a key objective in this exercise.
“The physical exercise of transporting the Military Working Dog for a real-world flight helped us understand the configuration of the aircraft and modalities available to us and what veterinary-specific equipment we will have to supply,” added Gaffney.
Having the right equipment and preparation ensures the teams are better prepared for any potential real-world aeromedical evacuations in the area of responsibility.
“While Team Yokota has been lucky to not require this type of event in the past, we know we are better prepared for the future and can share our lessons learned with other MWD kennels and PHA-J VTFs as well,” said Gaffney.