For first responders. 2020 was incredibly overwhelming. COVID-19 threw them into situations that far exceeded their training and expectations. One paramedic found solace in a furry friend.
Candra Cooper is a paramedic in San Diego, California. At the height of COVID-19, she set to work on a temporary assignment in Imperial County.
She worked moving patients to and from a temporary medical facility set up in a college gym. It held 60 patients.
She worked 24-hour shifts moving the patients from the taxed hospital, only to move them back if their condition declined.
The assignment allowed her to get to know many people, doctors, nurses, and patients. She also knew which patients made it and those who did not.
Surrounded, But Alone
She was immersed in this horrific day-to-day scenario and never really had a break from its reality. On her days off, she had to isolate so she would not accidentally expose anyone to COVID.
Cooper said, “You are just kind of constantly surrounded by COVID and sickness, and it is the focus of every day, every minute.”
Enter Baxter, a fluffy face of love and support that can only be found in a dog. Baxter was a 2-year-old Goldendoodle.
He would often visit American Medical Response paramedics and dispatchers after calls at the company’s Kearny Mesa office and nearby hospitals. AMR operation manager Pau Forney said, “Baxter is just a moment of calm.”
Baxter even has his own therapy dog vest and an official badge. Since crews were working in Costa Mesa and Imperial Valley, Baxter worked in the area too.
Cooper looks forward to seeing the pup. She sits with him and does paperwork after calls.
“It just gives you a chance to come out and get grounded again. Have a moment of happiness inside of the chaos. It is so hard to be upset when you are with a puppy — he reminds us how much support is out there.”Candra Cooper
She felt very homesick during her time in Imperial County, especially since her sprint was from December to March. Cooper said,”-he comes in and lifts everyone’s spirits and gives a chance for everybody to gather around him and feel like a team, to have that normalcy.”
Baxter gave these paramedics who risked their lives a chance to have some connection and spend time with “man’s best friend.”