LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — West Metro Fire recently added two members to their crews to serve as support in a new way during times of extreme stress and anxiety.
FOX31’s Nicole Fierro got an inside look at station three Sunday, where Remmey, one of the department’s new therapy dogs, is helping firefighters make big strides in addressing mental health.
West Metro Fire received more than 35,000 calls last year, 70% of them medical.
“Over time, those calls kind of add up, and the stresses can compound on our firefighters,” station captain Reed Norwood said. “When there’s a child that we run on that’s maybe the same age or the same clothes as our kids, it ties back to our own families, those can be especially hard to process.”
Now, when firefighters return to station three, there’s a four-legged member of the crew ready to do her part, helping heroes decompress.
“Remmey is 3-and-a-half years old, she’s our family dog, she’s an Irish setter,” Norwood said.
Every time Norwood comes to work for two days straight, so does Remmey.
“I get up at about 4:30 in the morning to get to work and she just knows that’s a work day, so she gets excited and jumps in the truck and goes to work,” Norwood said. “She just kind of knows who might need her and she’ll just sit with them and they’ll pet on her and love her.”
Norwood believes the quality time with Remmey is making a big difference while also helping to create a cultural shift in the way firefighters cope.
“Years ago, we’d just put a lid on it and not deal with stuff,” Norwood said. “We wouldn’t deal with the stresses, we wouldn’t deal with the anxiety. Now, we’re starting to throw all sort of tools out there for our firefighters to utilize.”
Remmey is one of two certified therapy dogs with the department. A few other firefighters are in the process of certifying their best friends too.
“There’s such a history of dogs in the fire house, but over the last 50 [to] 60 years, that’s just gone away. So to have that back is extremely beneficial,” Norwood said.