‘They are public safety’: EMTs, paramedics train to treat K-9s under Nero’s Law

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty.

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. COURTESY PHOTO/ORANGE FIRE DEPARTMENT

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty.

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. COURTESY PHOTO/ORANGE FIRE DEPARTMENT

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty.

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. COURTESY PHOTO/ORANGE FIRE DEPARTMENT

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty.

Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield and the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, brought some colleagues and her two personal dogs to the Orange Fire Department on Jan. 26 to deliver a training required by Nero’s Law, which allows for the medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. COURTESY PHOTO/ORANGE FIRE DEPARTMENT

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 02-14-2024 4:57 PM

With their training complete in advance of this month’s deadline, local EMTs and paramedics now have the skills to provide medical treatment and transport of police K-9s injured in the line of duty under a new state law.

Nero’s Law, which has been praised by local fire chiefs, was signed by former Gov. Charlie Baker two years ago and the full implementation planned for February 2023 was delayed by a year. The veterinary training consists of a 1½-hour online portion and a 1½-hour hands-on class.

“I think it is worthwhile. The K-9 officers are a big part of what our law enforcement officers do. They’re highly trained,” Turners Falls Fire Chief Todd Brunelle said. “It’s a good thing.”

The law’s namesake is a Yarmouth Police K-9 wounded on April 12, 2018, when his handler, Sgt. Sean Gannon, and other officers were serving an arrest warrant. But despite the severity of the injury, officers had to bring the German shepherd to a veterinarian via a police cruiser because state law prohibited an ambulance transport. Nero survived but Gannon died of a gunshot wound he received.

Brunelle said his EMTs reported that the training went very well.

“People are well prepared, I think, and if the need should arise to treat a K-9 officer, I think we are as equipped as we can be to handle the situation,” he said.

Some Athol and Phillipston firefighters joined Orange Fire Department EMTs and paramedics in finishing their Nero’s Law training at the Water Street station on Jan. 26. Orange Fire Chief James Young said personnel were trained to bandage wounds, treat major bleeds and assist with breathing apparatuses on four-legged lawmen. In the future, he said, advanced training will include techniques such as intravenous therapy.

“We treat police K-9s like an officer, which is what they are in our mind,” Young said.

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The training was delivered by Dr. Kaitlyn Boucher, the wife of firefighter Brian Boucher, who brought along some colleagues and her two personal dogs.

Dr. Boucher, an emergency medicine specialist at Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield, said the training included how to treat wounds and feel for pulses as well as “how to do mouth-to-snout breathing.”

“It was nice to see how [firefighters] could apply what they already knew,” she said. “I’m actually very excited about this. They can get these dogs the care they need.”

Dr. Boucher said Nero’s Law also applies to accelerant-detection canines, or dogs trained to respond to trace amounts of flammable materials that could have been used to start a fire.

Greenfield Fire Capt. John Whitney said the majority of his department’s members completed their training last year, though a few finished up with a session at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in January. He explained the training included how to handle airway obstructions, burns, head trauma and heat injuries.

“I think it’s long overdue. The fact that we weren’t allowed to put a K-9 unit in an ambulance was just antiquated,” he said, “because they are part of us. They are public safety with us.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.