You Know What They Say: 'A National Guardsman is a Dog’s Best Friend'

By: Travis Mueller

U.S. Army Sgt. Carlos Patino has been a civilian nurse for eight years and a flight nurse for three years, but this was the first time he ever treated a dog for cardiac arrest.

“I am going to be completely honest and tell you that the training for medics to treat military working dogs has been very minimal,” Patino said. “There was no training that would have prepared us for this situation.”

Patino and fellow flight medic Staff Sgt. Felicia Jensen had both recently arrived in the Middle East where their unit is deployed in support of Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.

Bailey, a military working dog, rests with soldiers with the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade after suffering cardiac arrest. | Photo credit Sgt. Carissa Diggs

As Patino finished his shift one day, he heard there was a soldier suffering from cardiac arrest. Since there was only one other medic on shift at the time, he jumped on the medevac flight as a second medic. That’s when they learned their soon-to-be patient was a military working dog.

After assessing the K-9 patient in the air, Patino’s civilian background kicked in and he quickly understood that Bailey, the dog, was in shock due to dehydration and widened blood vessels.

He performed calculations to determine the fluids and medications needed to stabilize the dog while Jensen maintained the airway and provided rescue respirations.

“All our interventions were based on educated guesses, for we do not have the equipment that would allow us to assess the level of dehydration,” Patino said. “Therefore, we based our interventions on the limited information we gathered from our rapid assessment.”

The aircrew also provided emotional support to the dog’s handler and veterinary tech. After staying with the dog for 45 minutes at the emergency department, Patino said Bailey was finally stable. A veterinarian said the dog was one of the few that had ever survived that type of incident.

“All lab results supported the reasoning behind our treatments,” Patino said.

Patino credits the aircrew’s communication as an important factor that led to saving the dog’s life.

“The flight lasted less than five minutes, but it seemed like an eternity,” Patino said. “Bailey has been through a lot, but she did not suffer any neurological deficits secondary to the cardiac arrest, in part because of how aggressively we treated her.”

Bailey will travel to Germany to receive further monitoring and care.

As for the soldiers. Patino is studying to become a certified registered nurse practitioner, while Jensen is working on a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

-This article was originally published on NationalGuard.mil. It has been edited for USO.org.

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