Skip to comments.Keeping canine protectors safe (WOOF! WOOF!)
Posted on 02/13/2008 4:40:40 PM PST by SandRat
2/13/2008 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFPN) -- The protective gas mask used in local operational response exercises is very effective in a chemical environment for most Airmen throughout the Air Force, but its design leaves some unprotected.
One group at the 18th Security Forces Squadron here is preparing to handle the possibility of chemical attacks in a different way.
Airmen in the military working dog element have a unique situation where they must deal with protecting their canine counterparts from potential chemical attacks without being able to use many of the countermeasures humans use. The Airmen take a number of precautions for their canines.
"If there's a (mission-oriented protective posture) level called, we stay indoors until the all-clear is given," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Branch, an 18th SFS dog handler. "Once the threat has passed, we'll come out and conduct our sweeps.
"We also seal up the kennels, fence and windows," said Sergeant Branch. "Once we seal up the building, one of us will stay with the dogs and monitor them."
Real life often proves unpredictable, and the members of the element have a plan in the event they get caught outside during an attack.
"Any time we get attacked, my first action will be to get in cover," said Sergeant Branch. "Once I get in a building, I'll wash (the dog) down as much as I can. Then I'll check his vitals and check his eyes."
The type of soap and water used are important factors within the chemical environment, and in some cases, exposure may call for more extreme measures.
"Depending on the type and severity of the chemical, it's possible that the dog may need to be shaved," said Tech. Sgt. Steve Montez, 18th SFS kennel master. "Normally though, we'll just wash them down with anti-bacterial soap and make sure we get their fur and pads extra clean."
With each exercise, the Airmen practice keeping everyone safe and healthy, even the ones with four legs, during any type of contingency.
Staff Sgt. John Grice, a dog handler with the 18th Security Forces Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, responds to a simulated protest during a local operational readiness exercise. The exercise tested the ability of base Airmen to respond to contingency situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Anthony Iusi)