TacMed Tips for K9 Based Simulation Operators

Tactical Medical Solutions (TacMed Solutions) provides learners with opportunities to meet the new EMS training requirements and veterinary advanced trauma life support curriculum development in the treatment of canines. These requirements mean Simulation Operators will need to be better prepared for simulation-based canine training. Many Simulation Operators lack experience in K9 simulation. Tactical Medical Solutions provides worldwide support to customers using the K9 Diesel and K9 Hero simulators. This HealthySimulatoin.com article written by Walt Nichols and Rodolfo Palacios will share TacMed Solutions lessons learned that support canine-based simulation training as a Simulation Operator.

Role of the Simulation Operator in K9 Simulation

Often, the Simulation Operator is the unsung hero, behind the scenes, that brings a simulation to life. They support two key stakeholders: the simulation educator and the training participant. Translating the simulation educator’s training concept into reality requires close coordination and a common understanding of simulation principles and the curriculum content. Good sources for K9 trauma treatment content are available at Deployed Medicine or K9Tecc.

Sponsored Content:

The Simulation Operator is frequently the team member most familiar with a simulator’s capabilities. For example, a Simulation Operator would know that K9 Diesel has 20 additional functions not found in K9 Hero. A knowledgeable Simulation Operator can help simulation educators decide which simulators to use for a given scenario and how best to employ them. Simulation Operators should be an integral member of simulation development and procurement teams.

Learners that Require K9 Training

K9 training audiences, the second stakeholder supported by Simulation Operators, come from three main genres: canine handlers, first responders (law enforcement officers, fire, EMS, and military), and veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Each audience has a unique culture, vocabulary, understanding of canine anatomy, and operational environment in which they work with canines. Simulation Operators should be aware of these nuances and how they may affect how a simulation is executed.

For example, veterinary professionals may be trained in a clinic setting, while field operators could be trained in tactical or austere environments, changing simulation setup and logistics. Simulation Operators must be flexible when supporting a wide range of audiences.

Sponsored Content:

Differences Between Human and K9 Simulation

K9 training has some unique differences from human based simulation that Simulation Operators need to consider. For example, windlass-based tourniquets commonly used on humans are ineffective on K9s, and hemostatic dressings are often the preferred first choice for major bleeding control. K9 treatment includes a muzzle, which requires some equipment planning. K9 anatomy drives differences in how life-saving procedures are performed. For example, needle decompression anatomy and landmarks in a K9 are different than in humans, so the needle is not inserted all the way to the hub due to underlying K9 anatomy. Good K9 simulators exhibit “right fidelity” or accurate physiologic and anatomic triggers that properly drive medical decisions in simulation. K9 simulators that lack the “right fidelity” can reinforce poor medical practices. Simulation Operators should consider “right fidelity” when purchasing K9 simulators.

K9 Training Simulation Design and Delivery

Simulation Operators typically run scenarios. Because K9 treatment will be new to most learners, the recommendation is to stay laser focused on the learning objectives. Frequently, simulations become so complicated and long that there is not enough time to debrief and repeat the information learned in the simulation’s second run. When a Simulation Operator helps the simulation educator gather objective performance data and run simple, repeatable, short scenarios, learners are more likely to gain confidence and build new skills.

View the HealthySimulation.com LEARN CE/CME Platform Webinar Serve & Protect: K9 Simulation for Police Dogs Injured in the Line of Duty to learn more!

Simulation Operators should be prepared to trigger events on the fly based upon how a simulation is progressing. To do this, Simulation Operators must be well practiced in running the simulator, and ideally, the simulator is easy to operate. For example, stretching a highly prepared student’s abilities with a simulated challenge can cement learning. But, if a challenge is too hard, adjusting the simulation to ensure learners meet the learning objectives and have a positive experience may be required. Knowing how the simulator operates is probably one of the most important factors in being able to adjust the simulation on the fly. The Simulation Operator must understand the importance of how to troubleshoot problems.

How to Minimize the Risk of Technology Failures

One argument for low-tech canine simulators is they “never fail”, but what they gain in reliability, they often give up on realism. All mechanical products will fail from time to time and usually at the worst moments. However, most failures are preventable, which include:

  • Failure to charge batteries.
  • Keep spare batteries on hand.
  • Know how long your batteries will last and how old your batteries are, as this affects charge capacity. TacMed Solutions K9s typically run 4-6 hours on one standard Makita 18V Lithium battery.
  • Remember, cold environments can shorten battery life.
  • In most K9 simulators, the most common reason for failure to bleed properly is user failure to clean a filter that takes less than a minute to access.
  • Perform recommended maintenance, like flushing the circulatory system after use, may reduce future issues.
  • Have a customized repair kit that streamlines maintenance and repairs.

Mobile Simulation for K9 Training Challenges

Supporting K9 training worldwide or just outside your simulation center can be challenging. Plan for electricity, especially with 220V adapters if you are overseas. Always travel with your repair kit, as procuring repair parts may be difficult or impossible. Another good idea is to have contact information for the company’s simulator support line. While problems are rare, TacMed Solutions Simulation Operators can frequently solve a problem with just a phone call or Facetime.

Simulator transportation may be a concern. TacMed K9s ship in large cases, which means the Simulation Operator renting a small car at a training destination may not be feasible. When shipping is not possible due to last minute training requests, K9 Diesel has flown in a golf club bag as checked baggage on commercial airlines. This is always a good story for airline personnel and Customs agents.

K9 healthcare simulation is a new and growing area for simulation operators. TacMed hopes these tips help prepare you to support K9 healthcare simulation. Tactical Medical Solutions is here to help you with your K9 training needs and questions.

More About the Authors

Rodolfo Palacios is a retired US Air Force Medic, with over two decades of expertise in Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, and Field Medicine. His service included deployments to the Middle East, Central, and South America. With extensive hands-on experience in both military and civilian simulation settings, he has spent the last 12 years at TacMed Solutions.

Walt Nichols is a 30-year Army Medic veteran with nine years of instructional experience, specializing in the development of hyper-realistic training scenarios and environments using simulation technology. Presently serving as a Technical Sales Engineer, he is responsible for the upkeep and repair of all manikins within the demonstration inventory. Additionally, Walt plays a crucial role in assisting the Customer Solutions team with essential repairs for customer units when needed.

More About Tactical Medical Solutions (TacMed Solutions)

Tactical Medical Solutions explains that products are not designed to pass a structured laboratory test in a controlled environment or barely meet a requirement as a substitute. Rather, they are designed to function when there is no structure when users have minimal supplies and very little time. This also applies to situations when there is no one else there to help, and users may have more than one casualty – while they are trying to save lives and while someone is trying to take theirs. That is the environment of the tactical healthcare provider, and that is where TacMed products excel.

Tactical Medical Solution’s trademark simulator ruggedness, realism, simple operation, and mobility are built into K9 Diesel to support the most realistic training possible in the field. Armed with strong content and realistic simulation, all that is required for executing high-quality training is the right medical supplies.

Some medical supplies and equipment can be used on humans and K9s interchangeably, but not all. The TacMed K9 Handler Trauma Kit provides the K9 Team with the necessary components to treat life-threatening injuries for law enforcement or military applications. Dual-purpose items can be used to treat injuries to both the handler and K9. In addition, the K9 first aid kit contains specific items intended solely for the treatment of an injured working dog, such as a K9 tourniquet, muzzle, endotracheal tube, and 14GA decompression needles to address torsion and GDV. Because slippage is a common occurrence when tourniquets or pressure dressings designed for humans are used on canine casualties, TacMed Solutions engineered the K9 Tourniquet to work effectively on tapered anatomy when placed high on the K9 limb. Integrated traction technology prevents the dog tourniquet from slipping down the animal’s leg, which reduces the tourniquet’s effectiveness.

Learn More About K9 Simulation from TacMed!


  • Edwards TH, Palmer LE, Baxter RL, Sager TC, Coisman JG, Brown JC, George C, McGraw AC. Canine Tactical Combat Casualty Care (K9TCCC) Guidelines. J Spec Oper Med. 2020 Spring;20(1):101-111. doi: 10.55460/YUMR-DBOP. PMID: 32203614
  • Lowther M, Armstrong B. Roles and Responsibilities of a Simulation Technician. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing;

Sponsored Content: