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Historic: MCFR Crews Lead First-Ever Transport for Wounded K-9

In a groundbreaking operation, the Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing the first-ever transport of an injured K-9 officer. The mission took place on February 17, 2024, when MCFR Medic Unit #65 undertook the solemn task of transporting MCSO K-9 Leo, who had been tragically shot in the line of duty.

The swift response unfolded with MCFR Medic Unit #65 arriving at UF Animal Hospital in Ocala. In a united effort, K-9 Leo, his dedicated handler, the attending veterinarian, and MCFR crews assembled for the critical journey. With urgency, Medic #65 embarked on a lights-and-sirens response to UF Animal Hospital in Gainesville.

This exceptional operation was made possible through collaborative efforts, with special gratitude extended to partner agencies, including the Ocala Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Their cooperation ensured a cleared route on I-75, allowing K-9 Leo to reach the hospital expeditiously.

The success of this unprecedented transport owes much to the foresight and proactive training of Marion County’s first responders. In February 2023, the Professional Firefighters of Marion County organized a K-9 emergency medicine course, conducted by Triad Medical Training. Led by instructor Matthew Casey and his K-9 Diesel, the comprehensive 3-day training covered combat injuries, gunshot wounds, airway management, wound care, and shock therapy specifically tailored for K-9s. Fifteen MCFR personnel, including SWAT paramedics, underwent this specialized training, showcasing their dedication to continuous learning and readiness for diverse emergency scenarios.

As K-9 Leo continues his recovery at the animal hospital, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his handler, Corporal Tortata. Today, we salute the bravery, compassion, and selflessness exhibited by the first responders at MCFR and MCSO. Their unwavering commitment to the well-being of their four-legged companions further exemplifies the essence of service in protecting and preserving life. A heartfelt thank you to all those involved in this remarkable undertaking.

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