An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Kunsan, Camp Humphreys participate in joint MWD medevac training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Military working dog teams from the 8th Security Forces Squadron, along with Army units from Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea, participated in the first joint medical evacuation training event, here at Kunsan Air Base Republic of Korea, April 13, 2021.

The purpose of the training was to observe and calculate the steps needed to properly execute a medevac for MWDs and their handlers due to the physical distance between the working dogs and their veterinary staff.

“Kunsan is approximately a two and a half hour drive to Camp Humphreys, where our MWDs must go for any type of veterinarian treatment,” said Tech. Sgt. Raymond Esteves, 8th SFS MWD kennel master. “If there was a life or death situation, our section wouldn’t have much time to try and stabilize, transport and safely maneuver through local Korean traffic while in route to Camp Humphreys.”

The K-9 handlers worked closely with their veterinary staff and medics from the 106th Medical Detachment and 3-2 General Support Aviation Battalion, Camp Humphreys, to dispatch two U.S Army HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and get the MWDs familiar with the aircraft upon arrival.

“The MWDs were introduced to the helicopters gradually, by first getting in while the engines were off to give them a better understanding and there was nothing to be timid about,” said Senior Airman Jacob Figgins, 8th SFS MWD handler. “We loaded the MWDs with the engines running to further familiarize them with the noises and vibrations they’d experience during flight. Obviously you can’t explain to the dog what is going on, so the gradual exposure helps reduce the anxiety associated with the helicopter.”

Participating in this kind of training not only benefits the MWDs, but also helps the handlers, veterinary staff, the aviation brigade and the 8th Medical Group reevaluate and develop processes for continuity and quick action responses in emergency scenarios.

“As K-9, we are always looking at innovative ways to enhance, improve and expose both our handlers and our canine counterparts, aligned with mission requirements and tactical objectives,” Esteves said. “Through an amazing working relationship with our veterinary staff, coordination and collaboration flowed extremely well between the many different organizations and expertise. Like anything with life, the more repetitions everyone is able to achieve will only increase effectiveness, confidence and foundation needed for not only current members but those who will take over for us in the future.”