By PoliceOne Staff
HARRISBURG, Pa. — EMS crews have been speaking of their most unusual air medical transport — an injured police dog to an animal hospital.
Police made the unusual request after Zeke was shot by a fleeing suspect and was losing a lot of blood, according to The Patriot News.
A Life Lion helicopter transported the animal to Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center, which is about 24 miles away by ground from the place where Zeke was shot, the article said.
The fleeing crime suspect, Skyler Stewart, was later shot by police, and was transported to the hospital by ambulance but later died.
Jason Campbell, the chief and CEO of South Central EMS, said Thursday that Stewart was transported by ambulance rather than helicopter as he was so close to the hospital when he was shot and because of his medical situation.
Life Lion administrator Lynn Doherty said her decision to transport Zeke by air medical helicopter March 15 was driven by awareness that K-9s are considered sworn law enforcement officers and have a substantial role in protecting the safety of the public and of police.
She said it was the first time she knew of medevac being used in such a way.
"I think it's always going to be on a case-by-case basis, because I really want to limit it to law enforcement and emergency service canines. I don't want to expand this to any other kind of animal," she said.
"I know if I had to make the same snap decision, with the same circumstances, I would do the same thing."
The Patriot News reported that Zeke, who lost about 15 percent of his blood, underwent two hours of surgery and is expected to fully recover.
"The helicopter made the difference here," veterinarian Mark Meyerhoff told the newspaper.
"Zeke’s our hero," Capt. Annette Oates of Harrisburg Police Department told The Patriot News. "He's one of us … We’re so happy he’s made a full recovery. He's a fighter — a crime fighter.”
Stewart was a suspect in a shooting and assault that took place the previous night.