Arrow crews lap up information about canine treat and transport

Carle Dr. Brad Weir and Carle Dr. Mike Smith talk with Vet Med's Dr. Maureen McMichaelCarle Arrow Ambulance crews and other area first responders asked a lot of questions about something they hope never happens—a working dog incident so serious the canine officer needs treatment from Arrow paramedics and EMTs on the way to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine emergency room.

Monday-night training participants came away with what they need to provide quality pre-hospital care to their potential non-human patients.

U of I veterinarian Dr. Maureen McMichael presented to a captivated crowd plus local media ready to share with the rest of our community the latest step in an expanded partnership will help keep our region’s canine law enforcement officers out there supporting their human partners and bolstering the safety of our citizens. McMichael is head of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s small animal emergency medicine and critical care service.

Carle Arrow Ambulance paramedics and EMTs plus area first responders at trainingThe Carle Regional Emergency Medical System (CREMS) and University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine collaboration gives formality to an agreement where Carle Arrow Ambulance will treat police service dogs that suffer accidental overdoses, serious injuries or heat-related emergencies in the line of duty, and then transport them to Vet Med.

“Arrow Ambulance paramedics and EMTs are prepared to treat and transport police service dogs injured in the line of duty,” said Dr. Michael Smith, Carle Emergency Department physician and medical director of CREMS and Arrow Ambulance.

“Larger cities on the east and west coasts have partnerships like this in place, and we consider our work with Vet Med and local law enforcement as taking an important leadership role in Illinois.”

Champaign County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chad Beasley and his canine partner ArcoAn unfortunate offshoot of our country’s heroin epidemic upped the ante, prompting Carle to create the Joint Task Force on Working Dog Treatment & Transport.

“An Illinois State Police officer told us the Drug Enforcement Agency had issued a warning to police—especially K-9 officers—about illegal street drugs laced with compounds that are hundreds of times more potent than heroin,” said U of I veterinarian Dr. Ashley Mitek.

“Scent-detection dogs are overdosing and dying, and their handlers need veterinary advice on how to respond to a canine overdose.”

Easy to administer, naloxone, also known as Narcan, quickly reverses opioid overdoses in people and dogs.

Carle Drs. Smith and Brad Weir took action to create the task force because of the increased threat to police dogs in the field.

“In 2016, there were 34 canine officer line-of-duty deaths in the United States,” Dr. Smith said. “The recent rise of synthetic narcotics such as Carfentanil places these dogs at significantly greater risk.”

As part of task force efforts, Dr. Mitek and fellow U of I veterinarian Dr. Maureen McMichael are working with CREMS and Arrow Ambulance are also partnering on research to study how best to educate EMS personnel going forward.