‘Tis the Season for Safety!

"Santa" Orbe TMC Crime Prevention K9

“Santa” Orbe
TMC Crime Prevention K9

Don’t let holiday happiness be marred by holiday hazards!  The TMC Security Team offers this information to help you and your family have a happy, healthy and SAFE holiday season.

At home
▪  Your Christmas tree could be thirsty!  Make sure it’s well hydrated to avoid becoming a holiday fire hazard.  A 6-foot tree will use about one gallon of water every two days.
▪  Keep in mind – trees cut early in the season run a greater risk of drying up before the holidays are over, making them more dangerous if they are decorated with lights.  When your tree dries up, don’t waste any time getting it out of the house.
▪  Be aware that sometimes criminals will pose as couriers delivering gifts to case your home, or commit a crime immediately.
▪  Be cautious that scammers may take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays.
▪  When you leave your home for extended holiday travel, have a neighbor or friend keep an eye on your house while you’re away, including collecting mail and newspapers while you’re gone. 
▪  It’s never a good idea to post your upcoming holiday travel plans on social media, as it’s an open invite to burglars!
▪  Avoid having large displays of gifts visible from windows and doors.

Stay safe while staying warm
▪  If you use portable heaters, make sure they have an automatic safety shut-off switch and never leave them unattended in a room with children.
▪  Install smoke detectors on every level of your house, and test them monthly.  Replace batteries at least yearly.
▪  If any appliances or heating devices in your home produce carbon monoxide, install detectors in your home.  Make sure they are tested regularly and properly maintained.

Out and about
▪  Don’t leave gifts or other valuables in plain sight in your vehicle.
▪  You’re more likely to become the victim of a crime at night, or while you’re alone.  Try to do your shopping during daylight hours, but if you are out after dark, don’t hesitate to ask for a security guard to walk you to your car.
▪  Take a few minutes and photocopy the important items in your wallet, including your driver’s license, credit cards, etc.  Keep these documents in a secure place.  In the event your wallet is lost or stolen, having a record of everything will make it easier to cancel and report to police.

"Santa" Ax TMC Crime Prevention K9

“Santa” Ax
TMC Crime Prevention K9

▪  You probably already know that chocolate can be lethal to dogs, but did you know that grapes, raisins, avocados, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts and walnuts can also cause a severe reaction including lethargy, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness and the inability to walk?
▪  Other things to keep in mind – holiday decorations can cut up the digestive tract and cause intestinal obstruction.  If chewed, live electrical cords can cause burns, difficulty breathing, seizures and cardiac arrest. 
▪  Pets may experience vomiting and diarrhea if they eat fatty trimmings and bones.  Swallowed bones can cause stomach perforation among other things! 
▪  If your pet ingests something potentially dangerous, play it safe and call your vet.  Or, the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline is (888) 426-4435.

TMC’s K9 Unit: Crime Prevention has gone to the dogs

Cisco Montoya TMC Security Officer Crime Prevention, K9 Unit

Cisco Montoya
TMC Security Officer
Crime Prevention, K9 Unit

Would you ever volunteer to put on a 35-pound bite suit and essentially become a human chew toy as part of a training session for a law enforcement K9?  TMC Security Officer Cisco Montoya did more than a decade ago, and the experience changed his life.  “I was hooked,” he said.  “I saw how fun it was to work with the dogs, and the bond that K9’s and their handlers have.  I was determined to become a handler.”  Montoya has been with TMC since 1997.  He started in housekeeping, and worked his way up the ranks while doing security part-time at another hospital.  The entire time, he continued to volunteer as a decoy – a move that eventually helped him secure his position as one of two K9 officers for TMC Security.  In 2003, he received his first partner, Gage.  The two were a team until Gage was retired at the end of last year.  Shortly after, he got Orbe (pronounced Or-bay), a five-year-old, 90-pound Czechoslovakian Shepherd.

Jim Myers TMC Security Supervisor Crime Prevention, K9 Unit

Jim Myers
TMC Security Supervisor
Crime Prevention, K9 Unit

Jim Myers has worked for TMC Security for 24 years.  When he was promoted to supervisor in 1995, he helped launch the TMC Crime Prevention and K9 program.  “The TMC Crime Prevention Program was intended to focus on effective prevention rather than just waiting for crimes to happen, and then responding to them,” he said.  That program also included the use of K9’s.  “At the time, no other hospital in the state had a crime prevention program tied in with their K9 program.”  Myers’ first dog was Zeus.  He had him for four years, until the dog had to be retired.  Myers spent the next eight years with Norbo until the dog was injured while conducting a search during a call.  In 2009, Myers received Ax, a six-year-old, 100-pound Czech Shepherd who is by his side daily.

Hans Blabla Czech Shepherd breeder/trainer

Hans Blabla
Czech Shepherd breeder/trainer

The TMC K9’s are all Czech Shepherds.  Their true bloodlines make them extremely healthy, and typically free of health problems that plague other breeds, like hip dysplasia.  The TMC Security team gets their dogs from a Czechoslovakian man named Hans Blabla who has a kennel in Surprise, Arizona.  Blabla breeds, imports, and police trains Czech Shepherds.  The dogs then receive additional training for a hospital setting.  “The most impressive thing about these dogs is their ability to transition from working to being social.  It’s just like flipping a switch with a simple command.  I could go on patrol with Ax, and then take him to TMC for Children, and he could serve the same purpose as a therapy dog,” Myers said. 

“Those traits are exactly what we look for in our dogs,” said Montoya.  “Since we deal with children at TMC, these K9’s need to be approachable.  Both Ax and Orbe tested great for this.”

We’ll have several posts over the next few months focusing on the TMC Security Department and their K9’s, including the crucial decoy training the dogs go through, their typical day, and how TMC Security assists the Tucson Police Department in a jurisdiction that is larger than the city of South Tucson!

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461