It is Time For EMS to Go to the Dogs

Do you ever have one of those days? Nothing is going right, the ambulance breaks down twice, the call volume is high, the Supervisor is asking what is taking you so long to get back in service? Combine all the above with a traffic jam getting home 2 hours after your shift. You walk into your house in a rotten mood. You don’t want to talk to anyone.  There is hope.  Waiting for you is your dog. He or she is just waiting for you and their tail wagging.

Mandy Belle

Hey, I know this type of a day and I have had a few as provider and Chief. I know when I walk into the house my Golden Retriever, Mandy is waiting for me. I start to pet her and play with her and within 5 minutes I have forgotten about my bad day. She does not care what type a day I had. All she cares about is me being home and playing with her.  We know that there is stress in EMS.

There has been numerous studies on stress and JEMS produced an article by Newland, Barber, Rose and Young titled Survey Reveals Alarming Rates of EMS provider stress and thoughts of suicide (JEMS 2015:10).  This article reported survey results that 86% of the participants experienced stress and 37% had contemplated. Should dogs be used more often in EMS to help out the those who are out there everyday helping others?

Dogs have been been brought in to help  others from the Sandy Hook and the Pulse Nightclub shootings.  During finals at college, dogs are brought into the library to help relieve stress of students studying for finals (Source my daughter). So to answer my own question, we should be using dogs  to help EMS providers relieve their stress. There is a program in Ottawa, Canada that is using a dog to help their EMS providers.

Tracy Levesque is a Paramedic in Ottawa,Canada where their EMS system responds to 120,000 calls a year. Tracy is breaking in a new partner. Max is a Golden Retriever and is the only Therapy Dog in Canada for EMS providers. Tracy and Max are this week’s guests on Medic2Medic Podcast. Tracy provides all the details on how the Dog Program came about, what her colleagues think about Max and what Max has done for Ottawa EMS. Tracy and I also discuss Max’s Twitter ability (yes I follow Max and tweet with him). Besides the Dog Program, we talk about EMS in Canada.

Podcast link: Medic2Medic Podcast Episode 87: Tracy and Max 

On a side note, my EMS agency Cary Area EMS, we are in the beginning stages of creating a dog program for EMS System.  More to come on this subject as we navigate the process.

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