For ambulance officers and paramedics, stress and traumatic situations comes with the job. Post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression can follow. Shockingly, research shows a suicide rate for paramedics four times higher than the Victorian average.
The natural empathy of dogs, their value for reassurance in stressful situations, is familiar to every dog-lover, which is why therapy dogs in Melbourne and beyond are becoming increasingly popular. Bruce the dog – and his handler and carer, officer Ken Whittle – work as part of ambulance Victoria’s peer-support program. Bruce’s reassuring presence allows front-line staff who may be suffering from emotional impacts to talk more freely, openly and confidently of their experience. Bruce has been such a success in the role that Ambulance Victoria has now extended the program with other suitable dogs.
Dogs and Ambos – where would we be without them?