You know immediately when they arrive because the whole room gravitates toward their wake.
“Did you see the Hope Dogs?” someone asks me.
“What are Hope Dogs?” I ask heading toward a growing crowd in a corner. Oscar and Pickles are therapy dogs who work for the non-profit organization Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (Hope AACR). They are part of an elite team that not only has animal-assisted therapy certification and experience but are also screened for suitability in a crisis response environment. Teams receive extensive training in Incident Command System (a standardized way we organize crisis response), first aid/CPR, emotional first aid, crisis communication, and special stress management techniques for work in the field along side first responders.
This is part of a series about the largest disaster exercise conducted in Washington State history called Cascadia Rising, 2016. See the other blogs here.
BY JOHANNA N. HANSON