On Friday, August 31, the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and the Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) launched a new program called “Pets for Paramedics.” The program is designed to help EMS providers relieve stress through regular interaction with pets from the Richmond SPCA. The idea actually originated during a conversation with paramedic Danielle Geronimo on a ride-along.
“I have an affinity for pets. I love cats, love dogs—all animals,” said Geronimo. “I thought it would be great for both the animals and for the patients—and for us—if we could have a dog on an ambulance.”
Although the logistics of putting dogs on ambulances would obviously be complex, RAA staff considered another way to incorporate animals into the work environment. Eventually, the Pets for Paramedics program was created.
On Friday, kittens Lemonade, Kombucha and Smoothie, along with dogs Magoo and Bernie came for the first visit with RAA staff as part of the program.
The Richmond SPCA will bring pets to RAA headquarters once a month for one hour. RAA staff will get a chance to interact with pets awaiting adoption while also providing exposure to help these pets find homes.
“I have seen firsthand the positive impact an animal can have on people in stressful environments,” said RAA Chief Executive Officer Chip Decker. “The partnership between our organization and our neighbors at the Richmond SPCA is a perfect fit.”
According to studies, EMS providers are frequently exposed to traumatic events which can lead to high levels of workplace stress. The partnership allows RAA to continue its dedication to providing a healthy work environment for EMTs and paramedics.
“We see lots of things that most average people don’t see on a daily basis,” said Geronimo. “It’s going to be great for all of our providers to take a break from their day and to be able to give some love, and maybe find these animals some good homes.”
Research on the human-animal bond has demonstrated the benefits pets can have on a person’s mental, social and physical health.
“Incorporating animals into their workday is a terrific way for RAA to invest in the well-being of their employees,” said Robin Robertson Starr, chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. “We are delighted that our neighbors at RAA appreciate the role of the Richmond SPCA in the community, and value the great comfort and support that animals bring to the lives of people who are feeling stress.”
“This is absolutely amazing. It’s amazing how one little idea can turn into this big event and now it’s going to be a monthly thing,” said Geronimo. “These dogs and cats just need some good homes and it’s great exposure for them. It’s good love for them. They need it, and we need it too.”
The public will be able to see Pets for Paramedics featured on the RAA website and social media, and those interested in adopting may contact the Richmond SPCA.