BRADENTON, Fla. — Manatee County Public Safety has a new in-house service dog to help paramedics and first responders cope with the stress of constantly working in a crisis.
The 2-year-old Golden Retriever named Rucker is the Public Safety Team’s PTSD facility dog.
Rucker recognizes anxiety and PTSD cues and can help calm them by nestling his head in the lap of someone who needs him. Rucker also uses his head to distract and soothe someone experiencing twitching, crying or fidgeting.
"For instance, if you were on a bad call or you were upset or you start crying, Rucker would console you and put his head on your lap, or give you a hug," said James Crutchfield, EMS Chief and handler of Rucker.
He helps treat 911 operators, EMTs and paramedics and lifeguards who have worked through traumatic calls and rescues.
"Having a dog there, you don’t have to say anything. We don’t have to talk about it, it's just instant comfort," said Karleigh Alday, a Manatee County paramedic.
Rucker is the newest component of the Public Safety Peer Support Program. It's where the public safety employees have received additional training to speak to their peers directly regarding on the job stressors and stressors at home.
Rucker was donated to Manatee County Public Safety by Valor Service Dogs.