Passion meets innovation
Leading Aircraftwoman Mikaela Hedges took her passion for her job as a military working dog handler and produced an innovation that has benefited the capability.
CAPTION: Leading Aircraftwoman Mikaela Hedges and her military working dog Odin make a formidable team in asset and personnel protection for the RAAF. Story by John Noble.
“I came up with the idea to 3D print dog tags with each individual MWD’s name on them to place on the kennels and move with dogs,” Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges, from 25SQN at RAAF Base Pearce, said.
“Each MWD now has a portable 3D printed tag with a clip that can be placed upon its new location such as an exercise yard, or a transport crate prior to training.”
Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges had the idea after meeting with personnel from Jericho Lab, which offers an environment, tools and support to turn ideas into reality.
“The decision to modernise the MWD capability through Jericho has enabled further clarity and functionality surrounding MWDs,” she said.
“When an MWD is moved from its normal kennel location, it is now easily identifiable and assists in prompting handlers as to which MWDs are currently available for exercise or training.
This is particularly useful for handlers who are new to the section and may not be familiar with every MWD.
“They are now able to readily identify each MWD via their tag so that all capability, training, and welfare requirements are always met.”
Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges, who describes herself as highly passionate about her role, moved from Army to RAAF to pursue a longer-term career with MWDs.
“After a tasking with RAAF handlers in 2017 I decided that being a MWD handler was the career that I wanted to chase,” she said.
“As Army’s capability within the Military Police is only a three-year posting into the dog cell, I decided that RAAF would be a better option so I could work with dogs long term.”
In the future, Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges’ Jericho-facilitated innovation can be built on to increase its utility.
“There is definite potential down the track to develop a QR code on the tag which when scanned, will identify medication, dietary, exercise and training requirements for each MWD, further enhancing the functionality of these tags,” she said.
Jericho Labs are located at RAAF Bases Amberley, East Sale, Glenbrook, Richmond, Tindal, Townsville, Williamtown, Wagga and Canberra.