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Canine crew ready for duty as initiative launches at north-east heliports


By Kyle Ritchie

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Canine Concern Scotland Trust as announced the launch of its latest initiative – Helipets – the first "paw-troll" of its kind working alongside all four heliport organisations in Aberdeen.

The crew are set to visit the terminals with the main objective of creating a positive experience for North Sea offshore personnel ahead of their travels, alleviating work-related stress levels and is aiming to promote wellbeing while creating a relaxed and comfortable environment.

The initiative follows the success of the existing Canine Crew duties at Aberdeen Airport and the first to welcome the canine crew of pups and their accompanying handlers will be Offshore Helicopter Services (OHS).

Therapet volunteers at Offshore Helicopter Services.
Therapet volunteers at Offshore Helicopter Services.

Helipets comes at a time where there is a silent global pandemic affecting workers in the energy industry – mental health, which is increasingly becoming a high agenda talking point when health and safety is addressed and there are some hard hitting statistics that back up why.

A white paper issued last year by the International Association of Drilling Contractors revealed the severity of the problem and found that 40 per cent of workers experienced suicidal thoughts some or all the time while on duty, and that offshore workers are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than those onshore.

OHS, which transports 1500 outbound passengers each week, will welcome a crew of two once a week for two hours to interact with passengers.

Therapets itself has a team of 32 volunteers, which work in teams of four, allowing to accommodate eight volunteers per week, per heliport.

Diane Wood, chairwoman of the board of directors, and the area representative for Aberdeenshire North said: “We are absolutely delighted to launch Helipets in Aberdeen, it is a natural progression from the initiative at Aberdeen Airport.

"I have experienced first-hand how the Therapets provide a positive experience including those dealing with mental health challenges as the dogs promote calmness and relaxation.

"Research shows that working away from home and in a fault intolerant environment is highly stressful. A Helipets visit can have a positive impact on the pre-flight experience.”

OHS commercial services manager Michelle McCombie said: “It is great news that we have been able to welcome Helipets to the team.

"For a long time, we have known that pets are good for us, that the mere action of stroking a dog slows down the heartrate and reduces blood pressure.

"We hope that bringing the Helipets dogs into our passenger terminals will be a welcome distraction for our passengers who are nervous travelling offshore, and for our colleagues at our Aberdeen facilities.”

Visit www.canineconcernscotland.org.uk to find out more about our Helipets programme or Therapets.


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