Podcast: Starting a Therapy Dogs Program to Help First Responders

PODCAST (20:51) — Lauren Christie of the GMR (Global Medical Response) directs of company therapy dogs program, which has as of today (2/3/20) has placed 28 canines into the company’s various US operations.

GMR owns American Medical Response, the ambulace provider in Monterey County and many other locations. Elionora, who works at AMR in Stockton, became aware of the program and helped arrange the interview. (Disclaimer: Elionora is my wife)

During this podcast, recorded 3/1/20, we talk about all the topics below. plus how start a therapy dog or dogs-at-work program in your company. 

therapy dogs

Hope, a 9-week old Goldendoodle, who calls AMR West Michigan (Grand Rapids, Holland, and Fennville, MI) home.

GMR Therapy Dog Team

Startup — Program started in the AMR Amarillo (a Global Medical Response Solution) (Texas) location June 2016 as a pilot program with Saydee and Bodhi. The Team began adding additional dogs following Saydee and Bodhi’s first deployment in the wakes of the 2017 Route 91 Music Festival mass-shooting in Las Vegas, NV.

Formation — The Team is composed of all standard-size hypoallergenic breeds, so far Goldendoodles, Labradoodles and a Sheepadoodle. The additions to the team always begin with puppies as they are more susceptible to training and learning the needs and stress levels of 1st responders. The dogs are trained to work higher levels of Therapy Dog encounters. Basic obedience training and exposure/experience training are key factors addressed while in-training and safeguard the dog’s prospects of passing the evaluations and becoming a successful Certified Therapy Dog in the 1st responder industry.

Evolution — The AMR Therapy Dog Team evolved into the GMR Therapy Dog Team October 2019. The Team growth opportunity and services are now offered to all GMR Solutions: American Medical Response, LifeGuard, Med-Trans, AirEvac Lifeteam, Guardian Flight, REACH, AirMed and Rural Metro.

Vision — The GMR Therapy Dog Team program’s vision is to support and address EMTs and Paramedics mental health needs. The team is an addition to the professional critical incident stress management teams GMR currently utilizes in small and large scale situations. The Team enhances debriefing gatherings where personnel can utilize the services of a trained and certified Therapy Dog to express and release the emotional stress they may carry or bottle-up after a difficult call.

therapy dogs

Teddy passed the CGC evaluation and will certify very soon for his GMR Therapy Dog certification!! Great job Teddy!

Mission — The Team’s mission is to be present for GMR personnel locally and nationally, answering the call when needed. Deployments range from mass-casualty incidents, natural disasters and more.

Future — The future of the Team and Program is to add dogs to specific GMR Operations throughout the nation. They will respond promptly and effectively to comprehend and relieve the high level of stress EMTs and Paramedics may endure.

Current Team — 01/15/2020: 11 Certified Dogs, 13 In-Training https://www.facebook.com/GMRTherapyDogs/

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