Meet Ember: The Crisis Response Dog Helping Firefighters Affected By Bushfire Trauma In Australia

Natural disasters can be mentally taxing on many people involved: victims, emergency responders, volunteers, etc. And if not given the proper care, they can cause serious mental health problems for people later down the line.

In order to keep those working hard to fight the wildfires in Australia relatively upbeat, the state of Victoria has brought in Ember the Crisis Response Dog.

This adorable Labrador has been visiting the countless firefighters and volunteers who have been fighting the incessant wildfires in order to provide them with a much needed emotional break.

Leading Firefighter with the Country Fire Authority, Natalie Brindle, said to Channel 7, “I’d had previous dogs before that had done therapy work. I was looking for a dog that would like to do therapy work in hospitals and aged care.”

She added, “Ember was doing that, and one thing led to another and an opportunity came up to do some crisis response work. We moved into that field because I’d been firefighting for a while and thought there was a really good application there for a dog to be part of the peer support program.”

According to Help Guide, dogs can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and ease loneliness in a person, while also encouraging exercise and playfulness.

Brindle revealed to The Morning Show, “A lot of people deal with high-stress work, and they’re having to make a lot of decisions. So when they have some downtime, it’s good to focus on something positive.”

“Dogs have this ability to make you feel calmer – just their presence in the room. And also, when you’re interacting with them, they’re non-judgemental. Ember’s just got a really calming nature about her. She’ll sit there, put her head in your lap and you’ll be able to interact with her,” Brindle explained.

“Crisis response dogs need to be a little more resilient and be able to work in a place that they’ve never been before with people they’ve never had any interactions with, who may be a little bit more anxious and affected by their emotions. The handler does a lot more training to deal with those situations as well,” she continued.

Ember herself also requires some downtime every now and again. And this Labrador certainly knows how to enjoy herself when she’s not working in difficult situations. Apparently, she enjoys going for lots of swims as well as kayaking. Thank you, Ember for all that you’re doing to help the people working hard to contain the wildfires!

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Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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