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Don’t be surprised to find a dog toy near Fire Station 107. The Canyon Country Fire Department first welcomed the Comfort Dog to the Los Angeles County Fire Department team.
Echo is a 4 year old yellow Labrador. She joined the department last June thanks to Jake Windel, a firefighter / paramedic and echo handler.
“When we wake up to get to work around 5: 5: 30, she knows it’s a work day and can immediately hear her tail swinging. You can, ”said Diaper.
He said Echo and the diaper were always together. In the morning, Diaper drives a truck to the train station with Echo, who worked with a veteran who lives in PTSD.
“It’s almost an echo truck and I just drive it. What she needs is always with me, ”he said. “Every time I open the truck, she finds herself in the fire department. She is very excited. ”
According to Windel, Echo was ensuring continuity within the station during the shift change when one crew member left the station and prepared for the arrival of another crew member.
“In the morning everyone at the kitchen table is waiting for Echo to come here … and when she comes here it’s a big party,” he said. “Thanks to Echo, we’ll be spending a little more time together.”
It changes people
Diaper said she was lucky enough to work with Echo to see how she can change people.
“When people pet a dog, it’s amazing what they’re talking about, what they’re talking about, and it brings that light and joy to people,” said Windel.
In the field, Echo has the same effect on firefighters and emergency services. With a 24/7 phone call, Echo must always be ready to respond to critical incidents to provide behavioral health and peer support.
“Our peer support team consists of firefighters who go out after these calls and speak to firefighters so they can open up and talk about what they saw,” he said. Told. “When our firefighters go out, they can judge whether they think it is a good time for the echo.”
Echo’s first use as a comfort dog was last year with the Bobcat Fire. “The days” such a fire was fought were “very” Groundhog Day, “” he said, referring to the famous Bill Murray comedy that repeats the same day many times.
“As you know, we interact with your crew in the mornings so they (a) have a little bit of home and happiness and can do the same routine over and over again. I repeat, ”he said.
Fire station 81 after the shooting
According to Diaper, the feeling of comfort that echo brings is important in this fire season. It was very important even after the recent shooting of Fire Brigade 81.
“It’s almost distracting,” said Windel on June 1 of the role of Echo. “(She) took her away from everything we had to do with that day.”
“I don’t know what’s going on, the feeling of having that innocent dog makes me happy to see you and I’m happy that you decided to pet her,” said Diaper. .. “I think it really helped the crew.”
Echo was with crew members from across the Santa Clarita Valley during the week as firefighters honored their comrade Tory Carlon, who died in the shootings.
According to Windel, the idea was to “make people smile, see the brightness that (echo) brings, and allow people to begin the healing process.”
Diaper said he believed Echo helped the healing process.
“She helps people have only one type of happiness and sees it move. As you know, its tail never stops swaying, ”he said. “And it makes people feel a little more comfortable and at home.”
Echo is a popular figure on the local fire brigade team. She is also developing a lot on Instagram: over 3,000 accounts follow @echothefiredog to see Echo in action and play.
A 20-second video recently filmed on TikTok that featured this local social media celeb has nearly 100 followers starts with the question, “Why does the fire department need a comfort dog?” It shows echo photos that make fire fighters happy.
How it started
The “reason” for the department’s comfort dog program was the point that Diaper had to explain well to department heads over the past decade.
“I had a lot of questions,” he recalls. “That was a new program, a new idea.”
He said the idea started with raising a bad dog that diaper found at work. The impact they had on the crew on the ward led to the idea of bringing therapy dogs into the department.
“Twenty guys are playing with dogs in the living area, they’re all there, they’re all laughing and having fun,” said Windel of the days when his dog came to him. “We really got into conversation and realized that the fire brigade needed a dog.”
About three years ago, with the help of department heads, Diaper said the plan had been implemented and attracted the interest of organizations trying to help new programs find dogs.
“I was very lucky and found a patriotic dog foundation,” said Windel. “We were the first fire-fighting dogs.”
How it happens
Right now, fire departments across the country are very interested in the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s program, Windel said.
“Everyone is calling in now and trying to understand how we did it,” he said, saying the Los Angeles Fire Department also has a comfort dog. “We coach other fire brigades in our dog program.”
From nearby departments like Santa Monica and Glendale to distant departments like Phoenix and Boston, Diaper said they were in touch to learn more about Echo.
“In these other departments, we’re pulling out the echo to answer the question, but we’re also showing how it works. Just bringing them into the room changes the mood and the seriousness of the situation. ”Said Windel. “It’s not about the patches we wear, it’s about the fact that we are all firefighters and that we help because we’ve seen the benefits of them.”
The Los Angeles County Fire Department also has Miro, the second comfort dog, who works with the department’s peer support coordinator to bring comfort to the firefighters.
Echo made a big difference between cumulative work stress and trauma.
“It doesn’t matter what happened on the street. Back in the kitchen doorway, Echo was standing, tail wagging, and she was excited for us to come back. Back to reality. “Said Diaper. “When we got home, we came back with an echo.”
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