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EMS providers learn advanced skills to treat injured police K9s

Paramedics and K9 handlers from De Pere Fire Rescue and Ashwaubenon Public Safety learn how to...
Paramedics and K9 handlers from De Pere Fire Rescue and Ashwaubenon Public Safety learn how to administer trauma care to injured police K9s.(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 30, 2020 at 3:41 PM CST
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Two fire departments in Northeast Wisconsin are now among an elite group of agencies statewide.

They have paramedics trained at the advanced level to treat injured police K9s.

Demand has grown over the last two years after state lawmakers passed a bill giving paramedics the ability to treat injured animals.

The stabbing of Green Bay Police K9 Pyro by a suspect last year also put the demand and desire for training in the spotlight.

While organizers of this training had this planned even before K9 Pyro was injured and recovered, they recognize the value and need for paramedics and officers to know how to treat these animals that they say are vital to police activity and a big investment from the community.

Thursday, more than two dozen paramedics, along with K9 handlers from De Pere Fire Rescue and Ashwaubenon Public Safety, spend their day learning trauma care for injured animals, specifically police dogs.

"Dogs get hurt jumping fences, going through broken glass, depending on what kind of terrain they're going over, so it's important that we can treat that right away, too," says Ashwaubenon Public Safety Officer Landon Gonnering.

The group also learns what many paramedics have not -- advanced care. That extra level of training shows them how to administer IVs, and do intubations and chest needle decompressions on dogs.

They're skills they'd need to know if a K9 were stabbed, shot or injured in a traffic accident.

"These injuries are fairly rare, but they can be fairly significant, and it does take special knowledge," says Dr. Steve Stroman, medical director for both De Pere Fire Rescue and Ashwaubenon Public Safety.

Dr. Lisa Peters, a board certified emergency and critical care veterinarian with the Fox Valley Animal Referral Center, shares her expertise with the two departments, showing them how different treating a dog can be from their usual calls.

She also teaches them a skill they may need to use often -- how to administer Narcan to K9s that may be exposed to drugs or even overdose while working.

"Time is of the essence, so if they can help stabilize them in the field before they get to veterinary care, that can absolutely be life-saving," says Peters.

We first showed you the basic training when Dr. Peters was training first responders at Fox Valley Tech last year.

A handful of these paramedics were there, but wanted an advanced level that would prepare more emergency responders in both departments.

"I'm hoping I don't have to, but if the situation does come up, I want to feel comfortable with the actions I can provide to provide time to get to vet care," says De Pere Fire Rescue Firefighter/Paramedic Ron Cody.

While crews will be trained, they don't yet have the equipment and supplies needed to treat the animals.

The De Pere Fire Department, De Pere Police Department, Ashwaubenon Public Safety and Brown County Sheriff's Office, in collaboration with the Bark and Blue Foundation, will hold a free event Saturday, Feb. 1, from 9:00-11:00 a.m., to let the public meet the dogs and offer donations to help stock their ambulances with K9 Tactical EMS Field Kits. Each kit costs about $300, and currently De Pere doesn't have any kits.

The Bark and Blue Foundation is helping raise funds to purchase the supplies. Donations can be made at the event or at

. Checks can be made payable to Bark and Blue Foundation.

The Police K9 meet and greet and open house will be at De Pere Fire Station #1 at 400 Lewis Street.

Anyone with questions can connect with the department either on

, or by

.