The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and state and local agencies partnered to host Florida’s first-ever canine (K-9) first responder and tactical combat casualty care training. FDACS, the State Agricultural Response Team (SART), K9 MEDIC, and the Florida National Guard Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force convened the training on February 22-24 at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.
25 K-9 handlers and their working K-9s attended, representing local, state, federal, and military agencies, law enforcement, and urban search and rescue teams. Students participated in a highly-interactive, hand-on learning environment packed with tactical scenarios that required providing field emergency care for their K-9 partners. Two K-9 handlers from the FDACS Division of Plant Industry, whose K-9s inspect agricultural material at commercial shipping facilities, attended the training, and the FDACS Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement provided continuing education credits for the training.
“We ask canines to defend us, to find us, and to go before us in times of danger and in extreme conditions. Their mission is to serve, protect, and save lives – and this training is our opportunity to protect them in return,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Training law enforcement and military canine handlers these crucial emergency veterinary medical skills enhances not only their careers, but the wellbeing of their four-legged partners. We thank the State Agricultural Response Team, the Florida National Guard, and everyone who made this unprecedented tactical training a success.”
“By partnering with K9 MEDIC and the Florida National Guard, SART worked to bring an intense, hands-on training experience that focused on protecting and caring for canine first responders in the field, when a veterinarian or hospital isn’t around,” said LeiAnna Tucker, Florida SART Administrator, FDACS Division of Plant Industry. “By teaching the handler to learn and apply these emergency medical skills for their canine, they’re preparing themselves for all situations, whether a missing child, a massive hurricane, or even an act of terrorism they’re called to assist with.”
“K-9 medical training is a skill rarely offered to handlers,” said Sergeant Meyers, Florida National Guard Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force. “Providing this course with life-saving, pre-veterinary competencies to handlers throughout the state of Florida helps the communities in which they serve by increasing handlers’ abilities to recognize, intervene, and transport their K-9 so they can continue working for years to come.”
“This training helped us realize the importance of being prepared to save our dogs in a trauma situation,” said Officer Jason Hutchinson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “This class reiterated that we take seriously first aid for humans, but opened our eyes to the importance of K-9 first aid, as well. If you’re given a K-9, you’re given a life to care for – it’s your responsibility to be ready and equipped to care for your partner.”