Cartersville VRS Meets

Published 3:16 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cartersville Volunteer Rescue Squad had special visitors at its meeting Feb. 5 – Laura, Skip, and Tripp Martin along with big brother Kipp, Phillip Farris, trainer and Tess, a diabetes alert service dog. The group visited CVVRS to introduce squad members to the family and Tess, to familiarize members with the dog's function in Tripp's care, and the squad's responsibility in maintaining the bond between them.

Tripp Martin is a two-year-old with juvenile diabetes. At two, he is unable to understand and effectively communicate his medical needs to his parents. Even with constant supervision and traditional blood sugar testing, Tripp experienced frequent blood sugar fluctuations putting him in danger. Mom and dad decided that an alert dog was essential to the safety of their child.

Diabetes alert dogs are trained to recognize fluctuations in the blood sugar levels of diabetics. They are trained to “alert,” or tell a family member that the diabetic's blood sugar is going low or high. According to Mr. Farris, the dog detect the change by smell and can alert to a rise or drop in blood sugar as much as an hour before traditional testing will pick-up the change.

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Laura and Skip lauded the community for their support in raising money for acquiring Tess through the multiple car washes, bake sales and other fundraisers that were held.

Tess is a five-month-old black Labrador retriever whose temperament is gentle and laid back. There is a two-year process of bonding and learning that she has just begun. She is being trained to alert Tripp's parents to his experiencing high blood sugar by pawing and low blood sugar by a nose nudge. She cannot be separated from Tripp. Separation would put Tripp in danger and be stressful for Tess.

The trainer shared things that squad members and people in the community need to know. Americans with disabilities law allows Tess to go everywhere with Tripp. Even in the ambulance. The few exceptions include places like an operating room. When out of the Martin's home, Tess will have on a halter that identifies her as a service dog. If Tess accompanies Tripp into a public place, like a store or restaurant, the employees can ask two questions: is this a service dog and what is the trained to do? It is important to know. In a public place if there is another diabetic with an abnormal blood sugar, Tess will alert to that person.

In the community if you meet Tripp and Tess, ask the family for permission to pet her before doing so. Another important thing to know is Tess is a real lady. She came into a room full of strangers and sat at the feet of the family quietly through the presentation and a rather rambunctious question and answer period. Tess was warmly welcomed by Cartersville Volunteer Rescue Squad. She is accepted as another important link in insuring high quality health care to a member of the Cartersville community.