The 10th Central Virginia EMS Education Expo presented by Bon Secours, VCU Health, Henrico Fire and EMS, and Chesterfield Fire and EMS was another successful event filled with vendors and classes aimed at educating first responders and healthcare workers.

Among the many classes offered at the Expo was our presentation about our Paws for Paramedics program. The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) was invited to teach a class about how the program got started, and how it’s benefited our employees and animals from the Richmond SPCA so far.

RAA and the Richmond SPCA launched a partnership creating the Paws for Paramedics program in 2018. The program is designed to help EMS providers relieve stress through regular interaction with pets from the Richmond SPCA. RAA staff interact with pets awaiting adoption while also providing exposure to help the pets find homes.

According to studies, EMS providers are frequently exposed to traumatic events which can lead to high levels of workplace stress. This partnership allows RAA to continue its dedication to providing a healthy work environment for our EMTs and Paramedics. Research on the human-animal bond has demonstrated the benefits pets can have on a person’s mental, social and physical health.

The classroom was packed as RAA and Richmond SPCA spoke about these benefits but attendees got a chance to experience the benefits of interacting with animals firsthand as dogs Ridoggulous, Jeremy Bearimy, and Demi walked around the classroom during the presentation. RAA and the Richmond SPCA had a great time interacting with those in attendance and got some great ideas on to incorporate animals into more of what we do in the future.