Four-pawed help is coming to first responders via AT&T’s ROG the Dog program. The initiative, which builds on the new FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition, is aimed at improving the health and well-being of those at the front line by using therapy dogs, specifically labradoodles.
The program, a collaboration with Global Medical Response, helps first responders during crisis situations. The program, which derives its name from the FirstNet Response Operations Group (ROG), currently includes more than 30 labradoodles trained in animal assisted therapy. There are 32 certified or in-training locations in the United States.
The need is great. One study found that first responders’ life expectancy is more than 20 years lower than the average American male. It also is estimated that 20 to 25% of first responders suffer from post-traumatic stress.
Studies have shown that interactions with animals can improve coping and recovery, enhance morale, decrease stress and reduce effects of PTSD, according to the post.
Agencies that use FirstNet can request ROG the Dog in the same way that they request other assets from the FirstNet fleet.
“Nothing is more important than the lives of first responders and the people they serve,” Jason Porter, the president of Public Sector and FirstNet for AT&T, said in a press release. “That’s why we’re bringing ROG the Dog to the front lines for the men and women who run toward emergencies. We understand the service these everyday heroes provide to our communities does not come without burden and personal sacrifice. Serving public safety is our mission, and it’s an honor to grow FirstNet beyond delivering innovative new technologies and mission-centric features, but also helping to ensure that those who put their lives on the line are at their best day in and day out.”
In February, FirstNet said that it had added almost 100,000 square miles to its coverage area during 2020. As of that date, the public/private network covered more than 2.71 million square miles and had more than 2 million connections. The network, which according to the update covered 99% of the U.S. population, had more than 15,000 subscribing agencies and organizations.