Paramedic Emma Webb with ACD Ted, Sophie, and Steve Richardson
The idea of care dogs for the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service (IOWAS) developed after a visit to the Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium in 2022.
At that event the team were able to see first-hand how effective the dogs were at supporting some of our emergency services colleagues, and we were put in touch with Canine Concern. When the idea was proposed on the Island, there was immediate support form the senior management team, including the Head of Ambulance who volunteered her own dog for the scheme!
In April we held an assessment day and welcomed Steve over to the Island, who despite the rough weather on the crossing had a lovely day meeting 12 of our Ambulance Care Dogs! They all passed with flying colours and have since been enjoying their visits to the Ambulance teams in the station and the control room. We have had lots of lovely feedback from the staff who have met the dogs, and also the managers have noted an improvement in team morale and positivity after each visit. This is particularly important for our Call handling team who work in a very difficult environment, and they enjoy the chance to have a break and a cuddle with a care dog whenever they can.
The dogs are very much part of the team here now, and have been invited to join in on important events such as the recent royal visit to open the new station. We are now exploring ways to establish an “emergency response” dog that can be deployed to support staff affected by traumatic incidents – this is something we have trialled here and found to be really effective in helping improve crew welfare. We’re really grateful to Canine Concern for their support in setting up the scheme and for continuing to provide advice and support to our “Dog Squad” members.
COMMENTS FROM STEVE RICHARDSON CANINE CONCERN AREA COORDINATOR
It was my pleasure to “bounce” across the Solent and meet the team. Sophie has worked really hard and encouraged SO many staff to come on board and support this amazing venture.
Despite some awful weather we achieved “Teach the assessor” and I met some super dogs and some truly dedicated people (and dogs!) . This is such an incredible venture – and has also gained recognition within my own company as a great use of my “volunteer day”
Well done Sophie for this and hopefully we can use this to replicate across other places too.
ACD Bert with Paramedic Pete May ACD Freddie with owner and Head of IOWAS Victoria White
ACD Jinx at the Ambulance Station