BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Help is always a phone call away and first responders serve as the lifeline.
“We’re the people you call for help,” said Leah Constantino. “So when people are overwhelmed or don’t know what to do, we’re there.”
Paramedics work through the bad wrecks and calls that end in heartache.
“We have a job to do and that saves people’s lives no matter what’s going on,” she said.
Constantino is a shift leader with East Baton Rouge Parish EMS. She has been rushing into dangerous situations for strangers for 25 years. She says for the most part, paramedics suck up their feelings and go because they have to get to the next call. But tucking those emotions away can take its toll.
“They’ll just stack on top of one another and eventually turn into something you can get away from,” Constantino said. “You can’t unsee what you’ve seen. You can’t forget what you’ve lived through.”
This veteran paramedic says it's time they pay attention to the bad and take better care of one another with the help of a few happy tails.
Constantino, along with members of the East Baton Rouge Paramedic Association, through a project called After the Call, are trying to raise money to pay for an emotional support dog, its training, fencing, food, and medical care.
“They’re nonjudgmental. You don’t have to speak a word to them. They just sense what’s going on,” Constantino said.
The project was started by the group to provide mental and emotional support to first responders.
Emily Jackson with Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) says they receive requests often by people that want to adopt an animal so they can train them for emotional support.
“It doesn’t matter what you’ve got going on, it’s a steady relationship," Jackson said.
Lifelong companions can start at the animal shelter, Jackson says.
“We believe an old dog can learn new tricks,” she adds.
Some think dogs have the ability to bring out the best and the worst that we need to let go of. They become emotional support.
That’s exactly what Constantino and her crew need to unwind after a long day.
“The dog kind of draws that out of you as it’s lowering your cortisol levels and you actually admit, ‘Hey I was actually bothered,’” she said.
A GoFundMe was started in December to buy one emotional support dog. Constantino says the dog would stay at headquarters so all first responders could benefit from its comfort. The goal is to raise $5,000.
Jesse Walls is the cofounder of Louisiana Warriors Unleashed. Instructors with the non-profit train dogs for anyone that needs emotional support. Walls says they offer a gift of love.
“You can fool your wife, but you’re not going to fool your dog," Walls said.
So the next time you hear sirens heading to a call, think about the first responders and the help they need after saving a life.