Lake County firefighters learn how to help dogs in emergencies

More than 20 firefighters and paramedics from departments in central Lake County underwent training Monday to help them treat police dogs and civilian pets in emergencies.

They learned how to administer fluids intravenously, how to wrap bandages around an injured dog's head or tail, and how to open an airway through intubation so an animal can breathe properly.

The session, at Mundelein's main fire station, was the first of three in May and June. Veterinarian Alexis Newman of Lisle-based Partners and Paws Veterinary Services led the program.

The sessions were prompted by questions Mundelein Public Safety Director Eric Guenther had about the police department's canine, Titan, who joined the force about a year ago.

"What would happen if Titan was injured in the line of duty?" Guenther recalled asking another public safety official. "It's not something anybody had put too much thought into."

Newman had the answers, showing the firefighters and paramedics how to treat animals injured in fires, car accidents and other crises. She gave tips for dealing with animals that ingest drugs, ranging from aspirin and Tylenol to heroin and cocaine.

For a real-world example, Newman discussed how police dogs needed medical assistance during the manhunt triggered in September 2015 by the death of Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. Authorities spent days looking for Gliniewicz's killers, only to learn months later he took his own life.

More than 40 police dogs were part of the search on the first day. It was hot, and hyperthermia was a problem, she said.

A few dogs needed intravenous fluids because they were so severely overheated, she said.

"We probably treated about 30 dogs that day," Newman recalled.

She demonstrated how to administer fluids under the skin to cool down a dog. She was assisted by her pet dog, Max.

Firefighters from Mundelein, Libertyville, Gurnee, the Round Lake area and the Vernon Hills-based Countryside Fire Protection District participated Monday.

The skills they learned can be applied to police dogs or pets. The equipment they need already is on their ambulances.

"We're not using stuff that we haven't been taught to use (already)," Mundelein Fire Chief Ben Yoder said.

The training also allows firefighters to transport an injured police dog in a fire department ambulance, something state public health rules otherwise forbid.

Countryside firemedic Ryan Mastandrea found the training pretty interesting.

"It's cool to be able to work on an animal," Mastandrea said.

"It's nice to have some insight into what makes them tick."

Additional training is set for May 23 and June 8. Guenther expects participation to increase.

"This is a great example of the police having a need (that fits) the greater public safety picture," he said. "People are really attached to their animals.

"And if we have the ability to provide that immediate care to that animal, it just further enhances what we do and why we're here."

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  Countryside paramedic Ryan Mastandrea intubates Max with help from technicians Kristi Moore, right, and Cindy Keating during veterinarian training Monday in Mundelein. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
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