AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Saydee, a one-year-old therapy dog, is headed to Las Vegas to provide comfort to first responders.
"It's another avenue. Everyone expresses emotions and stress in different ways. A lot of the times in this industry, it's just you sit down with another human being," said Saydee's handler Lauren Christie. "A counselor, someone who is trained to talk about these types of things and you talk it out and debrief, but sometimes that doesn't release everything."
American Medical Response decided to send Saydee, along with another therapy dog named Bodhi, to help EMS decompress from the emotion-filled calls.
"In EMS, we prepare for the causality incidents and how to treat people medically," said AMR Operations Manager Will Hendon. "Unfortunately, we don't do very good with dealing with the aftermath and preparing our employees and the caregivers that arrive on the scene to deal with the things they may see and encounter. The therapy dogs provide a good augmentation to deal with those problems."
By just being herself, Saydee helps first responders take their mind off whatever they may see in the field.
"When you can really get yourself well while talking about something and petting an animal who is bringing you comfort, whether it's in a calm matter like this or sometimes she can be a little more playful in those situations," said Christie. "If that gets you to express the way you're feeling in those situations, then she's done her job."
Not only will Saydee and Bodhi assist first responders, but victims of the shooting will also be able to benefit from their love.
"First and foremost to comfort our brothers and sisters with the EMT and paramedics, but we do want to be able to to extend the comforting to the police, fire, but also the actual victims and their families," said Christie.
After seeing how therapy dogs helped first responders recover from the mass shooting incidents in Dallas and Orlando, AMR believes Saydee and Bodhi will have the same impact.
"When you know that you are coming to work and are upset about something else and having to sit on an ambulance for 12 hours and see the things that you see, seeing her face to start your shift or finish your shift, I think makes a world of difference," said Hendon.