Richmond Ambulance Authority Expands Peer Support Programs

September 6, 2018

Recently Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) staff members were led by James Hyde with Peer Support Central as he helped come up with ways to build RAA’s Peer Support team and teach a train the trainer course. Hyde has over 30 years experience. He has been a peer, directed Peer Support programs, and worked with first responders and military around the world as they built their own Peer Support programs.

RAA’s Peer Support program will help its providers cope with day to day stress both at work and at home. The well-being of RAA’s providers is a top priority and the Peer Support program is aimed at helping the organization achieve that goal. Stress related illnesses are 10 times higher in the first responder community than they are in the general population. While that has been recognized, many agencies do not have any resources for their providers beyond an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). By creating a Peer Support team RAA is doing more.

RAA already has a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team in place. CISM sessions are used to help staff members after a traumatic event such as a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI), a line of duty death, or pediatric death. CISM staff members help their co-workers work through their feelings and cope with those feelings after such an incident.

The Peer Support team will be an additional tool RAA can use to help its employees deal with stress and traumatic experiences. The organization will be increasing awareness through continuing education.

Richmond Ambulance Authority and Richmond SPCA launch “Pets for Paramedics”

August 31, 2018

On Friday, August 31, the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and the Richmond SPCA launched a new program called “Pets for Paramedics.” The program is designed to help EMS providers relieve stress through regular interaction with pets from the Richmond SPCA. The idea actually originated during a conversation with paramedic Danielle Geronimo on a ride-along.

“I have an affinity for pets. Love cats, love dogs, love all animals,” said Geronimo.  “I thought it would be great for both the animals and for the patients and for us if we could maybe have a dog on an ambulance.”

While the logistics of putting dogs on ambulances would obviously be complex, RAA staff considered another way to incorporate animals into the work environment. Eventually the “Pets for Paramedics” program was created. On Friday kittens Lemonade, Kombucha and Smoothie along with dogs Magoo and Bernie came for the first visit with RAA staff as part of the “Pets for Paramedics” program.

The Richmond SPCA will bring pets to RAA headquarters once a month for one hour. RAA staff will get a chance to interact with pets awaiting adoption while also providing exposure to help these pets find homes.

“I have seen firsthand the positive impact an animal can have on people in stressful environments,” said RAA CEO Chip Decker. “The partnership between our organization and our neighbors at the Richmond SPCA is a perfect fit.”

According to studies, EMS providers are frequently exposed to traumatic events which can lead to high levels of workplace stress. The partnership allows RAA to continue its dedication to providing a healthy work environment for EMTs and Paramedics.

“We see lots of things that most average people don’t see on a daily basis,” said Geronimo. “It’s going to be great for all of our providers to take a break from their day and to be able to give some love and maybe find these animals some good homes.”

Research on the human-animal bond has demonstrated the benefits pets can have on a person’s mental, social and physical health.

“Incorporating animals into their workday is a terrific way for RAA to invest in the wellbeing of their employees,” said Robin Robertson Starr, chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. “We are delighted that our neighbors at RAA appreciate the role of the Richmond SPCA in the community and value the great comfort and support that animals bring to the lives of people who are feeling stress.”

“This is absolutely amazing. I mean it’s amazing how one little idea can turn into this big event and now it’s going to be a monthly thing,” said Geronimo. “These dogs and cats here just need some good homes and it’s great exposure for them. It’s good love for them. They need it, and we need it too.”

The public will be able to see “Pets for Paramedics” featured on the RAA website and social media, and those interested in adopting may contact the Richmond SPCA.

Richmond Ambulance Authority shares tips for staying safe in extreme heat

August 9, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmonders across the city are grappling with temperatures peaking around 100 degrees. Benjamin Roybal biked into the city to meet his wife for a picnic lunch Wednesday.

“I brought a backpack and a basket which is more than I wish I had brought,” he explained while laying out in his hammock tied to two trees in a park of Monument Avenue. Roybal said he was taking a break before trekking back home in the heat.

“Right now it is perfect because I’ve got that fine layer of sweat where the breeze hits me and its instant cool, but when the breeze dies down it’s a mind game,” Roybal said,
He made a point of finding shade and staying hydrated, two things emergency responders say are key in extreme temperatures.

On excessively hot days, even first responders stock up.

“We make sure each truck is equipped with ice and Gatorade,” explained Captain Veronica Ruffin, as she filled a cooler.

Captain Ruffin said severe heat is dangerous for everyone.
“Heavy sweating, weakness, cool, clammy skin, your pulse begins to race.” But especially, children and seniors, “Because they crash quicker,” Ruffin explained.

Authorities say under these weather conditions you should only venture out if you have to – and if you do – keep the water with you.

This article originally appeared in

RAA experiences another successful year at National Night Out

August 7, 2018

The Richmond Ambulance Authority participated in more than a dozen National Night Out events throughout the city of Richmond this year.

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors, law enforcement, and other public service organizations, while bringing back a true sense of community. It provides a great opportunity to bring communities together under positive circumstances.

Millions of people take place at events in all 50 states in neighborhoods across the country. This year was the 35th anniversary of National Night Out. In addition to enjoying good food, and good conversations, our staff taught people the importance of hands only CPR.

Hands only CPR is done without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an “out-of-hospital” setting.

It is important to remember these steps before performing hands only CPR.

1. Call 9-1-1 (or send someone to do that).
2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

RAA believes educating the public is essential in our efforts to save lives.

Partnership for the Future interns present final projects

August 6, 2018

Our Summer interns from Partnership for the Future recently completed their final projects at the Richmond Ambulance Authority. Our interns worked in a variety of departments including Finance, Human Resources, Clinical and Operations.

Partnership for the Future helps motivated high school students transition from high school to college and eventually employment so they can become successful, contributing members of our community. Students must go through a rigorous selection process and maintain high grades, while completing community service during their time in the program.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority is thankful to have a partnership with a program that cultivates and pushes students to become their best. For their final projects each intern was asked to create a program that would leave a positive footprint in the city. We’re hopeful the brilliant ideas presented to us come to fruition one day.

We have no doubt that Kyana Jones, Brianna Bugg, Teliza Bracey, and Mattea Anderson have bright futures ahead of them. We’re happy RAA was able to be a part of their journey.