Rotary unites to battle PTSD

Roger and Angie Weeks with dogs Rosie and BJ. Photos: Rob Maccoll

Helping people who help the community is the driving force behind PTSD Dogs Sunshine Coast who train dogs to assist veterans and first responders with post traumatic stress disorder.

The charitable organisation joined a wide range of services on Saturday in an event organised by the combined Rotary Clubs of Noosa.

Called Reach out and Connect, it aimed to provide a beautiful day by the river for families to enjoy the entertainment, a free sausage sizzle and find out more about PTSD and the services available to assist them.

Since 2018 PTSD Dogs have trained 20 dogs to assist people with PTSD and are currently training nine from their newly acquired base at Black Mountain.

“We teach them things that can be useful for people who have PTSD,“ spokeswoman Angie Weeks said.

The dogs are a constant companion, a loyal friend and are trained to cater to the specific needs of the client.

If they suffer from nightmares, the dogs are taught to turn the lights on and lie on their chests to comfort them. Their companionship encourages people to be more social, to go out into the community, but if other people invade their personal space, the dogs know to block their passage and give their handler the space they need. Sometimes just their touch lets their handler know there is someone there with them.

Some dogs know how to identify the onset of seizures, empty the washing machine or collect groceries from the lower shelves of the supermarket. Angie said the organisation was always looking for more volunteers to help out.

Police, ambulance officers and SES volunteers attended the event to talk about their work that can involve dangerous and high stress situations.

SES Noosa volunteer Su Below said members were called on to assist with traumatic events such as car accidents, natural disasters or searching for lost individuals.

“That does play on your mind,“ she said.

Su said to assist volunteers mental health they debriefed after each event, leaned on each other and had access to professional help if required. She said being able to help people in their time of need was very satisfying.

The Cooroora Woodworkers Club attended the event to show people what they did in providing a place for both men and women to share their passion for wood, learn new skills and meet other like-minded people.

“You can learn another way of life,“ club president Steve Chapman said.

“A lot of us are retired. It keeps you occupied.“