Berkeley Co. EMS Canine Assistance Support Team visits Moncks Corner Medical Center

Scarlett, a 1-year-old black lab, and Darby, a 3-year-old Australian Shepherd mix, paid a visit...
Scarlett, a 1-year-old black lab, and Darby, a 3-year-old Australian Shepherd mix, paid a visit to the staff of Moncks Corner Medical Center on Wednesday.(Live 5)
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - Two furry members of Berkeley County EMS made a visit to a local medical center on Wednesday.

Darby and Scarlett, the Berkeley County EMS Canine Assistance Support Team, paid a visit to healthcare workers on Wednesday at Moncks Corner Medical Center.

Both Darby and Scarlett are considered therapy dogs, meaning both dogs must complete many hours of training.

Berkeley County EMS Assistant Chief Michael Shirey says the program is mental health support for first responders.

“We started this program to really to provide some mental health support to our first responders, EMS, fire, police as well as our health care proviers here in the emergency room and our dispatchers as well,” Shirey said. “We see a lot of terrible things sometimes as we conduct our duties and it’s really taxing on our people.”

The dogs were donated to Berkeley County EMS by the nonprofit Companions for Heroes that helps service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Darby and Scarlett play a similar role for local first responders.

“Our folks are exposed to some of the worst things that you can imagine and they’re out there trying to help people and respond,” Shirey said.

Wednesday’s visit to Moncks Corner Medical Center was met with joy from the center’s staff.

Alyssa Herndon says it can look bleak and working in the emergency room can be very stressful, but that today was a nice surprise.

“I love dogs in general and so it is always a nice surprise to see them,” Herndon said. “It definately lightens the mood. It’s a nice cheer booster.”

Clinical Nurse Coordinator Victoria Tilman reiterated both points that Herndon made.

“It’s been very stressful lately,” Tilman said. “Obviously, with the rising numbers we’re having increased volume in patients. Certainly seeing the dogs just makes you happy. It’s great to have them here.”

Shirey says the dogs help responders “decompress” after significant incidents and they’re happy to have this mental health resource available.

“It’s an area that’s often overlooked so we’re trying to make sure that none of our people fall through the cracks when it come to the mental health of our responders,” he said.

Shirey says that they have been reaching out to other teams of first responders in the area during their “soft open” and letting them know that the resource is available and have already received requests for visits.

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