For more information, visit JEMS.com/rs and enter 22.
definition of a service dog) it’s certainly legal
to just say “no,” but consider if this is the best
overall option for the patient. Think about it
like this: If this were your mother or father,
brother or sister, would you make the accommodation necessary to allow the patient the
added measure of emotional support? Also,
if the news media were filming your interaction, how would you want your decision to be
portrayed to the public you serve? Would the
Monday morning quarterback of public opinion say you were reasonable in your actions?
If you take the approach that every patient
is a member of your family, why not make reasonable accommodations to include the animal in the transport arrangements—assuming
it can be done safely, of course.
If you sense you’re being manipulated or
tricked into allowing the animal to ride along,
or if you see no benefit to the patient’s emo-
tional or mental well-being, just say “no.”
Whatever you decide, be sure it’s in line
with your agency’s policies. Alert and obey
your chain of command as well as the receiving
hospital. Be sure to document the presence of
the animal, your decision to transport (or not
to transport) as well as the rationale behind
your decision. This will go a long way should
questions or accusations arise.
As the Medic 6 crew prepares to transport
Nancy to the hospital, they’re faced with the
decision about what to do with her dog. It’s
clear the dog doesn’t meet the ADA’s specific
service animal criteria and the crew can legally
deny allowing the dog to accompany Nancy
to the hospital in the ambulance. But during
their brief interaction with Nancy, they’ve been
able to appreciate the special bond between her
and her dog, and decide it’s best to transport
Medic 6’s company policy allows the crew
the discretion to decide when it’s in the best
interest of patient care to transport a service
animal as long as it can be accomplished in a
The crew documents their decision and
notes the emotional calmness the dog brings to
Nancy. They also note that it’s obvious that her
pet is a well-trained, obedient dog that clearly
responds to Nancy’s direction.
During transport, the dog sits on the floor
beside Nancy, where she is able to have both
visual and physical contact. The emotional
bond between Nancy and her dog helps make
for a stress-free transport and the crew eas-
ily works around him during their follow-up
assessments. Medic 6 advises the receiving
hospital that the patient’s emotional sup-
port dog was part of the overall care plan and
requests assistance during off-load. JEMS
Criss Brainard, EMT-P, is fire chief for San Miguel Fire &
Rescue in Spring Valley, Calif. He’s also a member of the JEMS
Acknowledgment: The dog that appears in the photos for this article is Molly, a diabetic alert dog provided by
Arizona Power Paws, a nonprofit that provides highly skilled
assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities as well
as education and continuing support for working assistance
dog teams. Visit them online at www.azpowerpaws.org.
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Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Retrieved May
19, 2017, from www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm.
4. Frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA.
(July 20, 2015.) U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division:
Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with
Disabilities Act. Retrieved May 19, 2017, from www.ada.gov/