By Jano Tantongco
The Suffolk County Police Department is equipped to handle human emergencies, but now they’ve added canine ones to that repertoire.
SCPD Medical Director Dr. Scott Coyne and Second Precinct officer Angela Ferrara visited the Dix Hills Animal Hospital on Jan. 30 to explain some of the medical training that the county’s elite officers are learning.
The SCPD’s Medical Crisis Action Team (MEDCAT) is now equipped to handle canine emergencies as part of their training. Coyne first created the team in 2008 as a merger between the fields of medicine and law enforcement to enable officers also act as first responders trained in Advanced Life Support.
June Margolin, president of the civic group Huntington Matters, is also a receptionist at the hospital.
“As a community, the Huntington area, we are extremely connected to our animals. It’s something that I think is important,” Margolin said. “They’re members of your family.”
Margolin was excited that these officers now have the training in their toolbox, since they act as first responders.
“We know that we can do something,” she said. “If we can just get to them sooner, we can do so much more.”
Ferrara, one of the 27 MEDCAT officers, said she learned about techniques including hemostatic dressing, which can stop arterial bleeding in animals; developed an understanding of canine toxicology; and learned about treating conditions like dog bloat, which can potentially be fatal.
“It’s been an outstanding experience so far under the direction of Dr. Scott Coyne to be able to save lives in the field. As a medic with the police department, it’s a great feeling,” Ferrara said. “I am a dog owner, I am a dog lover… and this training just advanced my medical training in the field. It really, really helps out.”
Coyne, who is also the chief surgeon for the SCPD, said there are 20 canine units currently with the department.
“They’re members of the service, they can be hurt be a perpetrator, they can be shot, stabbed, hit by a car. There’s no EMS for dogs, so we have expanded our training of the talent,” Coyne said. “The same principles really apply from humans to the dogs, there’s so many similarities.”
Dr. Alison Rhein of the animal hospital said that this training could aid in helping our canine companions in their times of need.
“A lot of times, by the time they get to us, it’s too late. All those things will help contribute to their recovery, and just like in the human field, if you can get EMTs to triage and get everything started, it just helps us do our job better.”