Easing accident trauma with five pounds of comfort


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Remourquage 514 driver Marco Trujillo hangs out with Nacho the service dog, who has been accompanying his owner in the cab for the past six years, offering comfort to victims who’ve suffered trauma in accidents.

While the physical effects of a car accident can be mitigated with the physical care offered to victims by firefighters, police, and ambulance personnel responding to the scene, the psychological trauma can be more difficult to accurately assess – and to immediately address.

“In the beginning, he was just along for the ride,” said Remourquage 514 tow truck driver Marco Trujillo of his 7-year-old Chihuahua name Nacho who accompanies him on all his calls, “then the firemen started to ask me, ‘Can you bring the dog? There’s some traumatized kids at the scene'."

Trujillo said it took about 18 months to fully train Nacho to seek out and stay near accident victims at the scene and the dog, who wears his own reflective safety vest, is happiest when working.

“Two months ago, an 85-year-old woman came into the tow truck after an accident,” said Trujillo. “She was nervous and shaking until she saw the dog. Within five minutes she was calm and told me, ‘That was the best thing I could’ve had’.”

Trujillo said training Chihuahuas in this manner is an exercise in patience but once Nacho had acquired the character and patience needed to interact with people at accident scenes, particularly children, he hasn’t looked back.

Nacho is the portrait of patience and kindness with people but, with the exception of two more Chihuahuas in Trujillo’s care, Salsa and Dip, he doesn’t much care for other dogs. “For him, his life is with people,” Trujillo said, describing how the dog rarely leaves his side.

Nacho’s eyes follow Trujillo’s every move and when his master picks him up singlehandedly and flips him on his back in preparation of wearing his service vest, that’s the sign that it’s time to go to work. “All the firemen in the area know him.”

Nacho has been dutifully on the job with Trujillo for about six years and, to the best of his knowledge, is the only dedicated therapeutic animal to accompany a tow truck driver on the Island of Montreal. With an average lifespan of 18 years, Trujillo fully expects Nacho to be at his, safely tucked into the passenger compartment of the cab of the truck, for many calls to come.

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