Meet ‘Bruce’ Ambulance Victoria’s newest recruit and one of the first ever peer support dogs in an Australian ambulance service. Bruce’s job is to visit paramedics and staff as part of a six month peer support pilot program to improve and strengthen the mental health and wellbeing of our workforce.
Research indicates the suicide rate for paramedics is four times higher than the Victorian average and three times the rate of other emergency services. People who work in emergency services also have reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress and fatigue.
Our aim is that by spending time with Bruce, we can break-down barriers and start conversations with our peer support staff that may not otherwise happen.
Bruce’s wellbeing is important to us and based on the advice of animal welfare experts, he’ll only ‘work’ for a few hours per day. When not working, Bruce will reside with his handler – paramedic and Peer Support Coordinator, Ken Whittle.