Meet Posey County’s newest first responder!

‘Boot’ is making strides at helping those who help us
Meet Posey County’s newest first responder!
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 5:36 PM CDT
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MOUNT VERNON, Ind. (WFIE) - You won’t find him responding to calls in the field, but he’s making a big difference for those who do.

Boot, a newly adopted puppy by Posey County EMS, is training to become an emotional support animal for first responders in the county.

“He was found as a stray back in April just wandering down the streets,” Paramedic Courtney Nalin said. “Animal control found him, took him over to the police station, we saw him and knew he couldn’t just stay there.”

Since the day he was adopted by Nalin and her shift partner, Boot’s made the EMS station his new home. Boot’s cost of adoption was covered by The Nisbet Inn, Nalin says.

“We’re working on him to be able to be calm in the presence of different people and different environments,” Nalin said. “He’s part of the group, part of the family.”

Boot is training to recognize large amounts of stress, and to be a needed break from the voracity of a 24 hour shift. Studies show first responders are 10 percent more likely than the public to develop mental health issues.

“To know that we’re making a difference in his life while he’s making a difference in ours,” Nalin said.

Tough situations come with the territory, Nalin says. She first got involved in EMS when her best friend died in a car accident.

“Experiencing car wrecks was very hard for me, because that’s how my best friend was killed,” Nalin said. “You don’t have time to sit and have your own emotions. You have to be in the moment, you have to treat them in the moment.”

Nalin says they often only see the bad sides of 911 calls.

“A lot of time we don’t see the outcomes,” Nalin said. “We don’t see a lot of positivity outside of what we see in the moment.”

She says resources are available to them, and they always check in with each other. She’s hoping Boot can be another pillar of mental health awareness for them.

“Sometimes you don’t even get a chance to process it until you get another run,” Nalin said. “So being able to come and sit with him for a few minutes; to just sit, calm down, and focus on him, instead of having to process all the things being all up in your head, does make a huge difference,” Nalin said.

Boot is completely funded by crew and community donations, so he’s living 24/7 at the EMS station at no cost to the county.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a crew, if it’s dispatch, it’s office personnel, it’s another agency coming in; he is definitely part of the family,” Nalin said.

Nalin says they have a couple different ways the community can donate to help Boot.

They have an account set up at St. Joe’s Veterinary Hospital in Evansville. People can go there and donate to help cover vet costs for Boot.

You can buy items on his Amazon wish list, and they’re hoping to get a bank account fully set up in the near future.

They’re also hoping to bring him out to community events when he’s more comfortable in large environments.