Crisis Response Dogs and Handlers to Train at SF Institute of Public Safety

Crisis Response Dogs and Handlers to Train at SF Institute of Public Safety

April 11, 2023 – The institute of Public Safety (IPS) at Santa Fe College will host training for about five Animal Assisted Crisis Response (AACR) teams on April 14-16, 2023.

Training will be presented by HOPE-AACR, an organization that has provided its services nationwide—free of charge—since 2001.  Each team consists of a trained handler and animal.  Many teams are affiliated with emergency response organizations such as the American Red Cross.  Crisis response may involve teams working directly under the guidance of mental health professionals.

Classroom and scenario-based training will prepare teams to provide companionship, comfort, socialization, mental stimulation, and appropriate physical touch to people in need in the aftermath of crisis situations, disasters, and traumatic events.  Training will focus on areas such as the nature of disasters, crisis intervention skills, animal behavior and stress management, the effects of stress on people, communicating effectively during crisis situations, and collaborating with emergency responders.  AACR teams also will learn to desensitize their dogs to common sights, sounds, and smells they may encounter at crisis scenes.

“The Institute of Public Safety is honored to host this important training that will be provided by HOPE-AACR,” IPS Director Tom Ackerman said. “The teams will learn and practice skills that will allow them to respond to events that can be chaotic and unpredictable, for the sole purpose of taking care of people in need,” said Ackerman, who teaches a three-credit Emergency Management course at SF in addition to his role as IPS Director.  “Considering current events in the United States, that is a tall order and a high calling.”

Training will be held at IPS from about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15, and from about 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 16.