Work has begun on a means to return sick or injured military working dogs to Australia via strategic aeromedical evacuation (AME).
CAPTION: Major Kendall Crowker, Flight Lieutenant Scott Glading and Leading Aircraftwoman Telisha Glading tend to a pretend military working dog on a RAAF aeromedical evacuation flight. Story and photo from ARMY newspaper.
Specialist health personnel from 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (3AMES) and Army’s senior veterinary adviser have combined their expertise to start developing the groundbreaking capability.
Strategic AME, a specialised component of the ADF’s medical support system for its deployed personnel, has never been used to transport dogs from overseas.
The deployment of dogs to PNG in support of Operation APEC Assist in November highlighted the need for Australia to develop a capability with specialised canine medical equipment.
SO1 Veterinary Health with the Directorate of Army Health Maj Kendall Crocker has led the push to fill the capability gap.
“Care of MWD casualties at 35,000 feet has many unique challenges not encountered at ground level,” he said.
“I knew we could only develop strategic AME for MWDs by combining information from the US Army Veterinary Corps with specialist input from the AME experts at 3AMES.” Dog casualties also face the complication of complying with Australia’s strict quarantine laws.
“Thankfully, there is now excellent liaison between Defence and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Biosecurity Branch at the technical veterinary level,” Maj Crocker said.
“This has proved invaluable in drafting guidelines for the smooth return to Australia of MWD casualties to an agreed port of entry and transfer to an approved specialist veterinary facility.” The first training development session for the dog capability was held in early November in a retired C-130 airframe at RAAF Base Richmond.
3AMES XO Sqn-Ldr Jessica Burton said the unit was looking forward to working on the project with Maj Crocker.
Concepts for loading and managing MWD casualties were trialled during a 3AMES training session using a state-ofthe-art canine trauma manikin on loan from Army’s School of Military Engineering Explosive Detection Dog section.
Maj Crocker said the training “went even better than I had hoped”.
“3AMES personnel were very keen to trial this new concept and adapted to their furry, four-legged patient immediately.
“Between my veterinary expertise and their knowledge of strategic AME, I think we made a great start in developing a valuable capability for the ADF.”