Soldiers learn how to be vets

IN an Australian first, military dog handlers and vets and members of the Special Forces came to Camden to learn life-saving emergency veterinary skills.

The group of Defence Force personnel from around Australia took part in the first K9 Tactical Casualty Care course at the University of Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The course was organised by K9 Hard Case, a business providing customised K9 equipment to law enforcement, military and governments to enhance training and practices.

K9 Hard Case owner and operator Mark Nelson said the course was standard practice in the US.

He said dog handlers and other defence force personnel would often be the first responder out in the field if a dog was injured.

"The more they know the better," he said.

"They can't always rely on vets to be there. Out in Afghanistan there aren't many vets."

Veterinary hospital pathologist Susan Piripi provided the equipment and assisted in the training program.

She said those taking the course learnt skills including how and when to use tourniquets, how to deal with a collapsed lung and how to stabilise a dog so it would survive until it could reach a vet.

They also used specially-designed stuffed dogs with holes in them to simulate various injuries and situations.

Dr Piripi said giving the personnel the ability to save the dogs' lives "means such a huge amount to the people who work with them."

"[The course] was part of their continuing education, giving them additional skills that might save a life."

Mr Nelson said he hoped to be able to hold the training course again in Australia next year.

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