It's early morning in June, and the roads are slightly slick.
Two cars have collided along St. Johns Street in Port Moody.
No one is seriously injured in the crash, but all involved are a little shaken up, including a mother and her two children.
That's when the role of a firefighter turns from first responder to first comforter.
In this situation, one of the firefighters grabs a stuffed Dalmatian dog from a fire truck.
He kneels down toward the younger sibling and hands the toy to the girl, while other responders are busy dealing with Mom.
It's a tender gesture meant to comfort the child. For several years, the fire department has been using the stuffed toy - the Dalmatian chosen because of its iconic link to firefighters - when children are involved at the scene of emergencies.
The toys are donated to the fire department as part of a program.
"It's just a comforting thing for the child," said Port Moody deputy fire chief Gord Parker.
"It takes their mind off the incident at hand and gives them something to hang on to."
Much like at the scene in June, Parker noted a few of the plush toys are kept in frontline fire trucks.
Typically, a firefighter will move the child away from the incident, talk to them and then offer one of the stuffed dogs.
And those Dalmatians are certainly appreciated. Parker explained that anytime someone is involved in a medical emergency, it tends to get their anxiety level up.
He said kids get scared, especially if the incident involves themselves, a parent or someone around them.
"It's pretty traumatic," Parker said. "The pup helps them take their mind off of it and helps them focus on something other than the emergency."
The little Dalmatian may not resolve the crisis at hand for a young child, but at least for a little while, it provides a feeling of safety and comfort.
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