Canada’s paramedics have one of the most important jobs in the country, and they sucessfully save hundreds of lives every single day. That said, for every life saved there is a considerable degree of distress and trauma that comes with the role, and some paramedics are struggling to cope. To help staff that are suffering with post-traumatic stress, Outaouais Paramedics have hired a puppy, and he’s got a very important role within the team.

Over the last five years, the Outaouais Paramedic Co-operative has seen a worrying number of their staff suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Of their 250 employees, four have had to leave their front-line posts, due to PTSD from work-related events. While the western Quebec paramedic team is relatively small, they’ve made space in their squad for one additional recruit, and he’s got a pretty vital role.

Outaouais Paramedic’s latest hire is Boba, a furry, four-legged employee who has the vital role of helping front-line staff process the trauma they might experience when they’re on the job. As a Labrador/Bernese Mountain mix, Boba is definitely big enough to cuddle, and he'll be there to absorb the stress and worries of all the staff who need him.

Dominic Fortin, who will be caring for Boba when he’s not busy working, explained, "I think the paramedics are always seen as heroes, and I think that's why they have a hard time talking about the big calls."

It was paramedics Elise Carriere and Marie-Ève Tremblay who had the idea of employing a puppy to help their staff deal with the stress and isolation of the job. Carriere told CBC News, “Sometimes it's just pain and distress that we see, and we bring it back." 

"The dog obviously won't judge you, ever. He can just be there for you to pet him. You don't have to say anything and he's going to make you feel better and then maybe he's going to help you to open up to a co-worker," Carriere explained.

Boba’s employment comes as an increasing number of Canadian companies and services are hiring animals to help humans deal with various stresses and anxieties.

Since 2016, Ottawa paramedics have had their own therapy dog, who is there to help staff deal with the day-to-day trauma that they may experience on the job.

In Toronto, service dogs have been introduced into the airport, to be a source of comfort and support for travellers who experience anxiety when flying.

Service dogs are also set to be implemented in several Ontario schools as of 2020, to accompany students that may have additional learning needs.

Fortin explained, “The stress is going to get back to you. We want [Boba] to help us open up about our feelings and what we lived [through]."

Good luck with your new post, Boba. We’re sure you’re going to be paw-some!

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