K9 Peer Support Initiative
About the Initiative:
The Florida Firefighters Health and Safety Collaborative K9 Peer Support Initiative, was started to offer First Responders a certified, organized and structured response, from a cadre of well-trained K-9 Response Teams. The team will provide Animal Assisted Crisis Response (AACR) consisting of a Certified Handler and a trained registered Certified Therapy Dog
To reduce stress, anxiety and suicide ideation experienced by First Responders, by mitigating the effects of trauma, tragedy and loss, so they can better take care of themselves and resume their mission to be of service to others.
Type 1 Handler: Both CISM and one of the peer support certifications, 2-hour self-care training, K9 first aid and CPR
Type 2 Handler: One peer support certification, National Certified Registered Therapy Dog certification, completion of AACR course. These are the minimum for a team to be considered Type 2. (Type 2 Handlers can respond to State-wide incidents with approval from the State Coordinator or designee and working in tandem mentored by a Type 1 Handler)
Type 1 handlers will be utilized first for call outs and deployments.
To Community of First Responders:
- Organized, certified, and trained local response
- Organized, certified, and trained State-wide response
To K9 Response Teams
- Assistance if needed in the expediting of securing a K9 from an animal rescue provider
- In person or virtual instructor-led training and evaluation to certify as a member of the FFHSC Response Canine Team
- Assistance in acquisition of required yearly Self-Care Training
- Leadership guidance and organization to requested State-wide Emergency Responses
Response Canine Teams will provide comfort, stress relief, emotional support, and crisis intervention as part of a Peer Support group response, or for an individual affected by a crisis or disaster. Secondarily, Response Canine Teams Members, will be able to provide resources to those affected by chronic or acute stress, by referring contacts to appropriate advance caregivers vetted by FFHSC.