Police officers in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, are learning how to provide life-saving medical treatment for their K-9 colleagues in a new training program.
The training, presented by members of the Operational K-9 Medical Team of Wisconsin (OPK-9), brings veterinarians and medical personnel specializing in dog injuries together with police officers in the county. The goal is to get first responders to learn how to implement emergency medical care for their K-9 partners.
“Times are changing and there are more crimes that involve violence,” Lisa Converse, co-founder of OPK-9, told the Watertown Daily Times. “We want to be available to show people, at events such as this, how to provide point-of-injury care.”
OPK-9 has been training law enforcement on K-9 medical field care for the last 20 years, but Converse said the climate is becoming increasingly dangerous for police canines.
As part of the training, Jefferson County officers learn basic medical skills, including how to stabilize a dog that has sustained a trauma wound.
Recently, OPK-9 incorporated search and rescue, military K-9 teams, EMS personnel and firefighters into their training sessions, focusing on basic handling skills of K-9s to advanced life-saving procedures in a variety of scenarios officers may face on the job, such as stabbings and shootings, which are on the rise.
“Twenty years ago we started with these (presentations and hands-on clinics) and it’s all morphed into this,” Converse explained.
Converse said a recent training session included 24 law enforcement officers, a handful of veterinary personnel and around six K-9s.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Brian Olson helped organize the training, which he believes is vital to protect the lives of K-9 colleagues.
“Although EMS is obviously designed for humans, we are hoping that EMS, too, can help save a dog’s life when it’s needed,” Olson said.
K-9 units from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Watertown Police Department and other Wisconsin agencies attended the most recent training on June 1.