Australia’s leading aircraftwoman chooses to be military working dog handler

Mikaela Hedges, a Leading Aircraftwoman, used her enthusiasm for her position as a military working dog handler to create a breakthrough that has helped the capability.

Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges from 25SQN at RAAF Base Pearce said, “I had idea to make 3D print dog tags with MWD’s name of each individual on them to set on the kennels and move with canines.

Every MWD now has a transportable, 3D-printed tag with a clip that can be attached to its new location, such an exercise yard or a transport crate, before training.

After speaking with representatives from Jericho Lab, which provides an environment, resources, and support to help transform ideas into reality, Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges came up with the concept.

According to her, “the choice to modernize the MWD capability through Jericho has enabled further clarity and functionality surrounding MWDs.”

“Now that a MWD is immediately identified when it is moved from its usual kennel area, it helps to prompt handlers as to which MWDs are currently accessible for exercise or training.

For handlers who are new to the section and might not be familiar with every MWD, this is especially helpful.

They can now quickly identify each MWD thanks to their tag, ensuring that all standards for capability, training, and welfare are always met.

Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges transferred from the Army to the RAAF to pursue a longer-term career with MWDs. She sees her work as being extremely fulfilling.

She stated that she made the decision to pursue a career as a MWD handler during a tasking with RAAF handlers in 2017.

I made the decision that the RAAF would be a better alternative so I could deal with dogs on a long-term basis because the Army’s capability within the Military Police is just a three-year deployment into the dog cell.

Leading Aircraftwoman Hedges’ Jericho-enabled innovation can be expanded upon in the future to enhance its usefulness.

“There is definitely room for future development of a QR code on the tag that, when scanned, will identify medication, dietary, exercise, and training requirements for each MWD,” she said.

All pilots are welcome to use the Jericho Labs, which are located at the RAAF Bases in Amberley, East Sale, Glenbrook, Richmond, Tindal, Townsville, Williamtown, Wagga, and Canberra.

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