Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond President Candy Bowman's Labrador retriever mix Abby returns a stress ball to Evan MacEwen, Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services paramedic, as he visits with Abby and other HAB dogs, including HAB Secretary Rhonda York's herding mix Blake and HAB member Eileen Jesmer's cairn terrier Suzy Q, during the EMS appreciation lunch for technicians July 7 at the Leavenworth County EMS Headquarters in Leavenworth. MacEwen obliged Abby's love for fetch by throwing the ball, which she returned many times during their visit. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Therapy dogs, including herding mix Blake, Labrador retriever mix Abby and cairn terrier Suzy Q, brought smiles to Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services personnel when Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond, Inc. attended three days of appreciation luncheons for EMS technicians July 7-9 in Leavenworth.


The event was meant to thank personnel for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to make up for the absence of the normal appreciation events during National EMS Week in May. The HAB visits and cookouts were offered over three days to accommodate EMS shifts.

Rebecka Clark, emergency medical technician, pets Suzy Q, Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond member Eileen Jesmer’s Cairn terrier, during an appreciation luncheon for Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services technicians July 7 at the EMS headquarters in Leavenworth. HAB teams — volunteers and their therapy-certified certified pets — were invited to visit with EMS staff during three days of appreciation cookouts July 7-9 to thank EMS shift workers for what they have been doing to help the community over the past several months. HAB teams provide comfort, stress relief and levity during visits to places such as hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, special needs camps and more. This was the first visit HAB teams had been able to go on for months due to COVID-19 precautions. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Normally hospitals invite us over for cookouts and stuff like that, and they really weren’t able to participate in anything like that,” said Brian Bailey, Leavenworth County EMS assistant director. “The hospitals did deliver here so that was pretty cool, but we really wanted to do something extra.


“These guys have had to be in N95 masks and gowns and gloves and goggles in the vast majority of our patient contacts, and we just wanted to do something as a thank you to them for suffering through this with that equipment on and doing a great job in it,” he said.

Paramedic Jack Stallbaumer lies on the floor with Blake, Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond Secretary Rhonda York’s herding mix, during an appreciation luncheon for Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services technicians July 7 at the EMS headquarters in Leavenworth. HAB teams — volunteers and their therapy-certified certified pets — were invited to visit with EMS staff during three days of appreciation cookouts July 7-9 to thank EMS shift workers for what they have been doing to help the community over the past several months. HAB teams provide comfort, stress relief and levity during visits to places such as hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, special needs camps and more. This was the first visit HAB teams had been able to go on for months due to COVID-19 precautions. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Bailey organized the cookout with Pat Morey, Leavenworth County EMS operations manager, and Michelle Westfall, Leavenworth EMS training officer, coordinated with HAB, an organization comprised of teams of volunteers and their therapy-certified pets.

Paramedic Natalie McGinnis takes a photo of Blake, Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond Secretary Rhonda York’s herding dog mix, during an appreciation luncheon for Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services technicians July 7 at the EMS headquarters in Leavenworth. HAB teams — volunteers and their therapy-certified certified pets — were invited to visit with EMS staff during three days of appreciation cookouts July 7-9 to thank EMS shift workers for what they have been doing to help the community over the past several months. HAB teams provide comfort, stress relief and levity during visits to places such as hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, special needs camps and more. This was the first visit HAB teams had been able to go on for months due to COVID-19 precautions. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“It felt like (HAB) would be a really good addition,” Westfall said.
Bailey agreed.


“They say everyone’s blood pressure drops when you pet dogs, so, if nothing else, we’re providing them a break from the day,” he said.


Candy Bowman, HAB director, said she and the other volunteers were happy to bring their dogs for a visit.

Tony Shankel, A shift supervisor; Rebecka Clark, emergency medical technician; Evan MacEwen, paramedic; and Jack Stallbaumer, paramedic, visit with Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond dogs Abby and Blake as HAB Secretary pets HAB dog Suzy Q during a cookout to thank EMS technicians for their dedication over the last several months July 7 at EMS headquarters in Leavenworth. HAB teams — including HAB Director Candy Bowman and her Labrador retriever mix Abby, Eileen Jesmer and her cairn terrier Suzy Q, and York and her herding mix Blake — were invited to the appreciation luncheon to share the comfort, stress relief and levity that their therapy-certified are known to provide. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“It’s something different, something to bring some smiles and some emotional happiness to everything that has been stressful and maybe not the best news for everybody,” Bowman said.

“(It’s an opportunity) to just let them relax and say thanks for everything they have done and continue to do and will continue to do.”


Misty Sargent, Leavenworth County EMS support, said the EMS personnel were excited for the visit.


“Who doesn’t love dogs?” she asked.

Rebecka Clark, emergency medical technician, and Natalie McGinnis, paramedic, visit with Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond members and their dogs — including Candy Bowman and her Labrador retriever mix Abby, Eileen Jesmer and her cairn terrier Suzy Q, and Rhonda York and her herding dog mix Blake — during an appreciation luncheon for Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services technicians July 7 at the EMS headquarters in Leavenworth. HAB teams — volunteers and their therapy-certified certified pets — were invited to visit with EMS staff during three days of appreciation cookouts July 7-9 to thank EMS shift workers for what they have been doing to help the community over the past several months. HAB teams provide comfort, stress relief and levity during visits to places such as hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, special needs camps and more. This was the first visit HAB teams had been able to go on for several months due to COVID-19 precautions. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Natalie McGinnis, paramedic, said the visit made her day.


“(The dogs) are very comforting, and I feel like they’re all knowing and embrace you,” McGinnis said. “Just like when you have a hard day and come through the door and they greet you.”

Rebecka Clark, emergency medical technician, and Natalie McGinnis, paramedic, visit with cairn terrier Suzy Q and other Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond dogs and volunteers during an appreciation luncheon for Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services technicians July 7 at the EMS headquarters in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Jack Stallbaumer, paramedic, said he thought that the effort of the event showed that the administrators appreciate their hard work. Stallbaumer spent some of the cookout showing his appreciation for the dogs by bestowing head rubs and belly scratches.

Paramedic Natalie McGinnis, center, visits with Fort Leavenworth Human Animal Bond members and their dogs, including Candy Bowman and her Labrador retriever mix Abby, Eileen Jesmer and her cairn terrier Suzy Q, and Rhonda York and her herding dog mix Blake, during an appreciation luncheon for Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services technicians July 7 at the EMS headquarters in Leavenworth. HAB teams — volunteers and their therapy-certified certified pets — were invited to visit with EMS staff during three days of appreciation cookouts July 7-9 to thank EMS shift workers for what they have been doing to help the community over the past several months. HAB teams provide comfort, stress relief and levity during visits to places such as hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, schools, special needs camps and more. This was the first visit HAB teams had been able to go on for several months due to COVID-19 precautions. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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