Office of Emergency Management Manager's ConferenceStart Date: 02/22/2022
The RMR Regional Manager was recently contacted by the Comfort Care Coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management Manager's Conference. They asked if we could provide HOPE Teams to attend the conference to show the attendees what our HOPE dogs do and explain our program to them. HOPE was referred to this organization from the COVOAD (Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) as they witnessed the incredible work that our teams provided at the DAC (Disaster Assistance Center) during the Marshall Fire in Colorado.
After arrival in the parking area of the Conference Center, I went in to meet up with the event coordinator and to survey the set up area, entrances, exits, bathroom areas etc., for our handlers and our K9s. We were assigned to the Comfort Corner at the back of the exhibition hall. This area was to provide a quiet area where the attendees could relax, get a massage and some pet comfort as well as an area to charge their cell phones. Upon arrival at that location, neither the event coordinator nor I liked the way the center staffed had set up the area. It was totally enclosed by a black curtain structure giving the impression that no one should enter this area, therefore we would not have been seen. The coordinator asked the center staff to remove the black curtains and that allowed the area to be opened up and to be inviting to enter. It then became the perfect location in the back/quiet area of the Exhibit Hall.
Due to the extreme cold weather, teams that were present went ahead into the center to set up the table and area. Our 3rd team arrived a little later. After set up, and arrival of all three teams, we were immediately put to work greeting attendees and vendors. There were over 500 attendees at the general session and approximately 50-60 different vendor tables filling a large event hall and lining the main hallways in the Conference Center. We spent most of the conference walking among the hundreds of attendees and vendors and interacting with everyone explaining our mission of comfort and encouragement for individuals affected by crises and disasters. The conference break out sessions became our break times (when it was least active), where we too could rest, potty our dogs and have some quiet time. We were located right next to a massage therapist and team who provided massages for the conference attendees and all staff. Clients were able to get a massage and be provided pet comfort at the very same time!
A vendor's location was identified because they had a "therapy puppy in training". Our teams were made aware of their location to avoid unneeded contact. Another Service Animal of an attendee was identified as well. There were no encounters.
We received many thanks and appreciation messages from attendees and staff. We were continuously sought out for photo opportunities and group pictures. We were referred to by the event coordinator as the "Rock Stars" of the conference! Our teams also learned a lot about Emergency Services and many new and upcoming equipment and services to support crisis response.Agency: Colorado Office of Emergency Management
Janice Mann and Lucas
Barbara O'Dwyer and Mack