Memorial Hermann's Life Flight launches first air ambulance in nation for K9 officers

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 12/4/20

Memorial Hermann announced in a Dec. 4 press release that it has launched its K9-Casualty Care Course and Transportation Service – the first air ambulance service for injured K9 officers in the …

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Memorial Hermann's Life Flight launches first air ambulance in nation for K9 officers

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Memorial Hermann announced in a Dec. 4 press release that it has launched its K9-Casualty Care Course and Transportation Service – the first air ambulance service for injured K9 officers in the nation. The course provides K9 handlers emergency care training for their canine partners and a first aid kit specifically for dogs while the Life Flight ambulance services expedites getting K9 officers to veterinary treatment quickly, when needed.

“Memorial Hermann Life Flight has been a leader in trauma care in the Greater Houston community for more than 40 years,” said Life Flight Medical Director Dr. Lesley Osborn. “Expanding our services to now include caring for K9 officers – who are also putting their lives on the line – showcases our commitment to our fellow first responders, along with our desire to continue to elevate the standard of prehospital care in this country.”

Under the new program, K9s in need of emergency medical care that is critical and are within Life Flight’s 150-mile service radius will be transported to Texas A&M university Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, VERGI 24/7 Animal Emergency and Critical Care Hospital or Westbury Animal Hospital. Each of the locations has 24-hour access and has a helipad or designated landing area.

The simulation animal used in training officers is named Jake in honor of the late Dr. James “Red” Duke’s dog. Duke helped envision Life Flight and develop it when it was launched in 1976. The K9 Life Flight program was inspired by Duke’s love of dogs and the effort to initiate it was led by Rudy Cabrera, chief flight nurse for the Life Flight program.

“As leaders in trauma care and with the support of the community, Memorial Hermann Life Flight is always identifying ways to be on the cutting edge of medicine and advances in care delivery,” said Tom Flanagan, vice president of the Trauma Service Line and System Integration program for the Memorial Hermann Health System. “Dr. Duke’s passion for pre-hospital emergency care and his love for dogs were driving factors in establishing this program. This was Dr. Duke’s idea and I’m proud our team was able to make his vision come to fruition.”

K9 handlers in the area expressed appreciation and support for the service to K9 officers from Memorial Hermann, including officers from the Houston Police Department which has sent officers to the training.

“The Memorial Hermann Life Flight K9-CCC program is very important to the K9 handler and police K9 officer’s community,” said Kristin Uhlin, Senior Police Officer and Handler/Leader with the Narcotics Division Canine Detail at the Houston Police Department. “Our department is fortunate to have this resource and service available to our team so we can continue to protect and service the Greater Houston area.”

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