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M Health Fairview paramedics comforted by Clayton the Lab

Clayton the yellow Labrador has a very important job: Help provide stress relief for EMS staff through cuddles and kisses.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's Note: The video above first aired on KARE 11 on June 6, 2022.

The newest member of the M Health Fairview Emergency Medical Services team can't take your blood pressure.

He can't drive an ambulance or administer an IV.

But make no mistake, with his floppy ears and fuzzy coat, Clayton is a very important member of the staff.

Of course, Clayton is a dog. The 3-year-old yellow Labrador recently joined the M Health Fairview EMS team from Can Do Canines as a full-time staff member and companion for paramedics working on the front lines. His primary role is to provide comfort and stress relief for employees through cuddles and kisses.

Kevin Kane, the supervisor for M Health Fairview Ambulance Operations, is Clayton's handler. “We see people on their worst days, and we see that over and over,” Kane said in a statement. “There’s enough literature to prove that if we don’t have good outlets for cumulative trauma, it can lead to poor outcomes. We’re hopeful that Clayton’s presence will be a powerful tool to support our team’s mental health.”

Credit: M Health Fairview
Clayton the yellow Labrador with M Health Fairview EMS

Clayton's already been busy in his new job, working as a "nap time companion" for EMS workers in need of rest and providing calming, emotional support following tough calls in the department.

To spread the love as much as possible, Clayton will visit EMS locations in St. Paul and Forest Lake. And while he isn't a patient-facing pup, M Health Fairview says Clayton will join EMS staff at many community events.

Credit: M Health Fairview
Clayton the yellow Labrador with M Health Fairview EMS

M Health Fairview believes Clayton is the first facility dog in the state to be a part of an EMS team, but he's not the first four-legged staffer in the health care system.

Tasha, a 3-year-old yellow Labrador, and Fern, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador-golden retriever mix joined the M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital facility dogs program this spring. 

Tasha and Fern also hail from Can Do Canines, a Minnesota-based nonprofit "dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities by creating mutually beneficial partnerships with specially trained dogs."

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