Kanessa Thompson is a paramedic, and her partner is the perfect employee.
He loves coming into work each day. He is very personable, making sure to greet each of his co-workers each morning. And as many people can relate, his favorite parts of the workday are naps and coffee breaks.
Thompson’s partner is a member of the Global Medical Response Life Peer Support Group. His name is Apollo the therapy dog.
Thompson is grateful to get to be part of the Global Medical Response therapy dog team, saying that it’s been one of the most rewarding jobs she’s had. “It is truly heartwarming to watch Apollo work,” Thompson said. “He senses when people are struggling and brings calm and comfort wherever he goes.”
Thompson met Apollo when he was a puppy at Labradoodles at Trails End, a breeder in Sandy, Ore. After getting to know each other a bit, Apollo underwent obedience training and obtained his Canine Good Citizen certification.
Thompson then trained Apollo for the specific skills he needed to master to meet Global Medical Response’s therapy dog criteria. By his first birthday, Apollo was ready to officially join the team.
While Thompson has been working for American Medical Response in Hazel Dell for 14 years, her initial inspiration to pursue a career in emergency medical response came as early as 7 years old, watching her mother work as a volunteer firefighter in Clark County.
After graduating from high school, Thompson followed in her mother’s footsteps and started volunteering at the fire district. The pair often got to work alongside each other on emergency calls. Next, she worked to obtain her EMT-basic, EMT-IV, and finally her paramedic credentials.
Now in her position as operations supervisor, Thompson meets with staff at area hospitals, nursing facilities, and assisted living programs to ensure they’re getting the necessary support needed from 911 and emergency response systems.
Apollo plays a vital role. Where Thompson sees that local medical and care facilities are being properly supported, Apollo works to make sure that local emergency responders are being properly supported too.
Apollo’s job is to be the perfect therapy dog, offering much-needed care and support to first responders after difficult calls and strenuous days helping patients. Whether it be EMTs, paramedics, nurses, pilots, or firefighters, Apollo is always willing to lend a helping paw in serving the members of the community who spend their days serving others.
Recently, the duo visited local hospitals currently overrun with patients as a result of the latest wave in the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals immediately gravitated toward Apollo, the heavy atmosphere of the hospital lifting as workers got a much-needed respite from the continual stress they’ve been under.
The work that Thompson and Apollo do each day is more important than ever.
“Our work as first responders is ever-changing. We are feeling the stressors of this pandemic in our work and personal lives just like everyone else,” Thompson said. “I hope that others can remember that first responders are people too, and we welcome your kindness and patience as we work through these challenging times.”