FirstNet Launches Animal Therapy Initiative for First Responders
Thursday, June 03, 2021 | Comments

In advance of the 2021 storm season, FirstNet, built with AT&T, is introducing ROG the Dog animal assisted therapy to support public safety on the frontlines. This new initiative builds off of the launch of the FirstNet Health and Wellness Coalition and reinforces the company’s commitment to be there for America's first responders by further supporting the health and well-being of those who serve their communities each and every day.

Compared to the general population, first responders experience higher rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), burnout, anxiety and other mental health issues. In law enforcement, one study found a more than 20 year difference in life expectancy compared to the average American male. In addition, it's estimated 20% to 25% of all first responders experience post-traumatic stress.

Therapy dogs are proven to have a positive impact on mental and physical health. Studies have shown that interacting with animals can improve coping and recovery, enhance morale, decrease stress, and reduce the effects of PTSD and emotional distress.

“As public safety's partner, we have a responsibility unlike any other wireless carrier to deliver for the first responder community,” AT&T said in a statement. “That's why we've gone beyond our commitment to build and operate FirstNet and are providing this unique type of support to keep them mission ready.”

Named after the FirstNet Response Operations Group (ROG), the team led by former first responders that guides the deployment of the FirstNet fleet of dedicated deployable network assets, ROG the Dog is actually a fleet of trained Labradoodles who specialize in animal-assisted therapy for first responders. FirstNet collaborated with Global Medical Response (GMR) to provide the therapy dog services, which are especially meant for times of crises following natural or man-made disasters. GMR chose Labradoodles as their therapy dog breed because of they have a good temperament, they are hypoallergenic, and they are well suited to providing calm and care in the middle of chaos. The ROG the Dog initiative is currently comprised of more than 30 animals located across the U.S.

Agencies on FirstNet can request ROG the Dog in the same way they request an asset from the FirstNet fleet. And just like the fleet, ROG the Dog is available at no additional charge. Agencies can call 1-800-574-7000 or contact their FirstNet solutions consultant, and the ROG team will work with the agency to determine if its request meets the requirements for therapy dog services.

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