Local first responders train on first aid for K9 officers

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 10/6/21

Harris County Emergency Services District 48 Emergency Medical Services crews along with some of their local law enforcement partners participated in a K9 first aid course on Thurs. Sept. 30. The …

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Local first responders train on first aid for K9 officers

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Harris County Emergency Services District 48 Emergency Medical Services crews along with some of their local law enforcement partners participated in a K9 first aid course on Thurs. Sept. 30. The course was taught by crews from Memorial Hermann’s Life Flight crews to ensure crews could assist K9 officers.

“It’s just trying to raise the bar one more step. Let’s do a little bit more and then also helping our fellow law enforcement officers or canine officers,” said HCESD 48 Training Chief Jayu Barrera.

Throughout the training, attendees got the opportunity to participate in both classroom and hands-on training using K9 officers, canine mannequins and textbook scenarios overseen by an instructor. Classroom training allowed the first responders to learn the basics of how to help canine officers that had been exposed to poisons, hazardous materials, narcotics or other serious health risks.

With tracking down violent criminals and controlled substances as part of their job, K9 officers are subjected to risks most other animals are not, instructors said. Therefore it was important to ensure handlers and medical staff understand how to assist the animals without being injured. When to use a muzzle and how to identify what foreign substances are negatively affecting an animal are key to ensuring proper first aid is rendered right away, Memorial Hermann instructors said.

Barrera said the idea behind the training is to join Memorial Hermann and its other community partners in supporting K9 officers. Additionally, staff at the department continue to want more expansive and groundbreaking training. This program allowed the department to accomplish both goals, he said. It’s all a part of making sure the department provides as many worthwhile services to the community as possible.

“We’re just trying to open up to more and more ideas with various trainings,” Barrera said. “We’re looking at mental health first aid classes. We’re looking at tactical emergency care courses for employees in the next year or so.”

Over time, Barrera said the goal is to ensure all of HCESD 48’s nearly 250 staff are trained in K9 first aid. The focus will remain on K9 officers, but staff will also be able to assist other animals if the need arises on a call. 

EDITOR'S NOTE/CLARIFICATION: HCESD 48 will not be responding to emergency calls for pets. Pet owners should contact their veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic as appropriate if their pet is injured. or has a health concern.

HCESD 48 Division Chief of Community Risk Reduction Jason Tharp said training such as K9 first aid and mental health first aid build the department up and make it better. Those courses allow the department to better serve the community.

It also serves as a bit of inspiration for friendly competition among regional emergency services districts, Tharp said. Having this training and others inspires the surrounding departments to work just a bit harder, just like other departments inspire HCESD 48. It also helps all of the departments do better for their communities, he said.

“If we can do these extra things – to reach out to different folks and different people in different cultures about different issues that we’re having – it makes us better individuals and a better department,” Tharp said.

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