The Maine Bureau of Emergency Communications has announced its newest member to the team. “Baxter” is a 5-month-old chocolate lab that will become the state’s first comfort dog for Maine’s three Emergency Communication Centers.
“These hard-working men and women are a calm voice in chaos, multi-tasking, quick-thinking first-line responders who navigate stress and trauma daily,” said Shannon Moss, of the Maine Department of Public Safety, in a news release.
Baxter’s mission is to provide health and mood-boosting benefits to these Emergency Telecommunicators and the community.
“We are excited to bring Baxter, the first Comfort Dog, to Maine and, I believe, New England,” said Brodie Hinckley, the Maine Bureau of Emergency Communications Director. “Baxter will be part of our Dispatch Family and provide daily support for our first, first responders, the Emergency Telecommunicators. You can tell how much a dog has a therapeutic role and can de-escalate stressful situations while providing unconditional love and support to the crew on some of their most challenging days just by being present in the center. We would like to thank Hero Pups and AT&T for making this happen.”
The Bureau of Emergency Communications has partnered with Hero Pups, a New Hampshire-based all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to training and pairing dogs with veterans and first responders. Hero Pups works with mostly shelter and rescue dogs and involves veterans and first responders in the dog’s training process.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Maine Bureau of Emergency Communications and happy Brodie Hinckley found another way to help his community and staff,” said Laura Barker, founder of Hero Pups. “Brodie is the perfect person to be the handler for this pup and we look forward to working with him as we train Baxter.”
The Bureau of Emergency Communications was able to receive Baxter thanks to the generosity of AT&T. As public safety’s partner, AT&T is going beyond its commitment with the federal government to build and operate FirstNet® – America’s public safety network – by putting resources behind supporting first responder health and wellness.
“The dedicated women and men of Maine’s Emergency Communications Centers are public safety’s first line of response,” said Owen Smith, president of AT&T Maine. “They deal with traumatic events, often one after another, daily. That’s where Baxter comes in. With just a wag of his tail, this incredible pup will help decrease stress, boost morale, improve coping and so much more. He’s going to make a major impact at the Maine Bureau of Emergency Communications and in communities across the state.”
Baxter will continue to train with Hero Pups until April when he’s a year old, at which point he will officially begin his duties as a member of Maine’s public safety team.
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