Crisis Intervention Dog Keeps Eye On First Responders In Stressful Times

FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — A crisis intervention dog is helping detect emotional distress among law enforcement officers and first responders after critical incidents. It’s a unique program serving Solano and Yolo counties.

“The types of calls that are becoming prevalent—these mass shootings, the fires—it’s a lot for us to take in,” said chaplain Robert Duvall.

Duvall is a former law enforcement officer and now chaplain for the Solano County Sheriff’s office who works directly with Kepi.

Kepi is not your typical comfort dog, but rather a crisis intervention dog, the first of her kind in the region.

“She goes around, and if anybody was triggering her, she would find that person and sit in front of them to alert me,” said Duvall.

Following critical incidents from the deadly Northern California fires to the murder of 3 West Sacramento children brutally killed allegedly by their father.

Kepi and her handler are part of the response team in Yolo and Solano counties.

Their goal is to detect emotional distress among first responders within the initial 12 to 24 hours and to make sure those in uniform are cared for before it leads to a tragic outcome.

“With her special training she detects the pheromones that we give off when we have anxiety, depression, and stress, just like she would detect a narcotic if she was a narcotics dog,” he said.

During initial debriefs, Kepi goes around and assesses each officer or firefighter for symptoms that may not often be visible.

“When someone is not showing any of those outward signs, I can have Kepi do an assessment, and she’s kind of my lie detector,” said Duvall.

“It’s easy to overlook the stress and how much you internalize things,” said deputy Christine Castillo with the Solano County Sheriff’s Department.

“There are a lot of guys and gals that don’t realize they have something going on or bothering them, but the dog has the ability to pick up and perceive, it’s a great resource,” said deputy Cully Pratt.

Kepi’s mere presence has proven to open up dialogue that is often bottled up, and that can lead to serious PTSD if not addressed quickly.

“Hoping that other agencies take note, and see that the mental health of our personnel is paramount,” said Duvall.

Outside of critical incidents, Kepi visits departments about twice a week for routine checks as well.

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