Safety doesn’t Happen by Accident
Having felt that some of the medical kit issues to working, police and military dogs was not quite right, Alice Clark founded MEDIK9 – offering kits to all dog owners be they common walkers or military professionals
Article by Andy Barnham
Established only this January, MEDIK9 specialises in canine first aid kits and is the brainchild of recently qualified registered veterinary nurse Alice Clark. During her training in the southern coastal town of Bournemouth Alice had regular exposure to Military Working Dogs and their handlers who frequented her surgery from their nearby military base.
Like their human counterparts, military dogs are also at risk from injury via stabbing, explosion, gunshot and heat exhaustion, and while less aggressive than their military counterparts the tactical firearm support dogs used by the police are often the first to be sent into a situation and are thus at high risk of injury. Yet while soldiers and other branches of the military and police receive medical training and frequently have a specialist medic among them, Alice learned that in these situations, man’s best friend was coming off second best. Although emergency first aid has come on spectacularly during the British Army’s experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, she was told of instances of out of date human supplies having to be used. While it has always been common throughout history for soldiers to supplement their issued equipment with premium self-purchased items, the general impression Alice received was that something was amiss in regards to the working dogs. Despite the fact the UK is a country of dog lovers Alice found a definite feeling that our service dogs are expendable, especially compared to our American compatriots who honour their fallen canine brethren with repatriation ceremonies; something the British Army does not conduct. Indeed the treatment of working dogs by the Ministry of Defence made headline news in the UK in October 2013 after it was revealed 350 retired military dogs had been put down between 2009- 2013. This figure was shortly released after it emerged Belgium shepherd, Brus and German shepherd Blade, two Royal Air Force dogs who helped guard Prince William during his time at RAF Valley were put down shortly after his final shift.
Easy to dismiss a gunshot or stab wound as something that happens to other, military and working dogs, the principle of canine first aid hit home with Alice’s injury prone Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla who twice cut her paws and twisted her knee before her first birthday, prompting Alice to look at products currently available on the market. Additional fact finding missions were conducted and meetings with various police forces taken, to investigate the requirement and need for canine first aid in addition to the information garnered from the military handlers. Surprised by the lack of quality products available, Alice consulted with her father who supplies medical equipment to the military, through his company MDT Global Solutions, and started researching medical products that could be adapted for dogs. In addition to her Vizsla, Alice also has two Boston Terriers and a Standard Poodle and has used her own dogs to test practical appliance of existing supplies. Military tourniquets are for example, in her opinion, too bulky as a product as they’re designed for humans with thicker limbs than dogs meaning a lack of adequate pressure being applied to wounds, while it is also important to consider ingredients used in other medical first aid, such as blood clotting gauzes and bandages, to ensure they don’t include components toxic to our four legged friends.
The result of her findings led Alice to establish MEDIK9. Assessing three main bands of risk (high, medium and low), the kits are suitable for military, police/ working and domestic dogs respectively with the aim of covering any injury sustained to being able to reach proper veterinary care. Alice launched MEDIK9 to an unsuspecting public at Dogfest in June this year, bringing 1,000 Low Risk kits to her stand, hand packing the kits (which include saline wash, poo bags, tick removers and two pairs of surgical gloves) helped by her parents and boyfriend. While the first day was unfortunately rain affected, better weather on the second day allowed her to offer CPR demonstrations on her own canine medical dummy, which helped bring interest to her stand and new product selling just over 100 of her kits. Yes, in addition to designing and producing medical kits, Alice has, in collaboration with Trauma FX, designed a modern, canine version of the Resusci Anne, finding the current ‘Casper’ CPR Dog unfit for purpose and is looking to upgrade her current anatomically correct prototype to be more realistic and include fur. Indeed many passing visitors at Dogfest mistook her prototype for a real dog.
While all the kits have the same basic purpose, the bags and components themselves have all been designed and built with very different end users in mind. The low risk kit, for owners or dog walkers, comes packed into a bum bag with carabiner to clip and secure a dog to allow two hands free to treat an injured animal, and is accompanied with a canine first aid memoire for owners who may be unsure of how to perform mouth to mouth on a dog and other such emergency treatment. Compared to the consumer friendly nature of the low risk kit, the high and medium bags are being supplied by the USA based company 5.11 Tactical who specialise in purpose- built tactical gear and accessories and can be incorporated into the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) used by the British and American armed forces. The medium kit, aimed at sniffer and search dogs starts with a basic kit which can then be customised, with the high risk kit aimed at being a far more comprehensive offering packed in vehicles and being built specifically for the individual needs of the handler and dog.
An e-commerce platform, with the aim of global shipping, is underway while Alice continues to build the brand through word of mouth based around her full time job. Now working in Wimborne Minster Alice works a full rota of early and late shifts as well as half days, keeping her skills and industry knowledge current and up to date.
Enquiries: 01202 823175 / www.medik9.co.uk/
The following organisations were contacted but declined to comment; British Army, City of London Police Force and College of Policing