Koltan in the E-Comm Lower Mainland Call Centre. (E-Comm)

Koltan the yellow lab provides therapeutic love for B.C.’s E-Comm 911 team

Registered counsellor Lynn Gifford and pooch will be based in Vancouver

British Columbia’s 911 emergency call centre is the first in the country to add a registered clinical counsellor and assistance dog to its wellness team.

Lynn Gifford, a specialist in trauma stewardship, and Koltan, a four-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, were at Emergency Communication, known as E-comm, in Vancouver on Monday for the announcement.

“The day-to-day challenges of the job itself can have an impact on your mental and your emotional health, just through repeated exposure,” said Jasmine Bradley, communications manager at E-Comm. “So hearing the sounds of gunshots, or somebody being attacked, even just silence on the other end of the line, it can all take its toll on you over time.”

Bradley said E-comm has used therapy dogs in the past for major events like the death of Abbotsford Cst. John Davidson, who died in the line of duty in 2017, and is optimistic the program will be successful.

READ MORE: ‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Koltan was bred and trained by the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society, known as PADS.

Tara Doherty, communications manager at PADS, says the organization breeds their dogs for health, temperament and resilience. She says it’s important for the animal when dealing with surprises and loud noises to recover quickly and handle a high-stress environment.

“They’ll come into a room full of people, and even if some of their favourite people are there, they’ll go straight for the person that maybe is having a hard day, or a tough day,” she says. “They kind of seek them out, so we’re looking for that natural ability. Koltan certainly has it.”

Doherty says it costs the non-profit $35,000 to train a dog, and they expect them to work 10 to 12 years.

Although Gifford and Koltan will be based out of Vancouver, they will travel to B.C.’s second emergency call centre located on Vancouver Island as they are needed.

The pair will be working full-time after the Easter weekend, but they won’t always be on the clock.

“At the end of the day they go home together, his vest comes off, he’s part of a family and gets to be a dog… and do all the things that a normal dog would do,” said Doherty.



joti.grewal@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Koltan (E-Comm)

Lynn Gifford, a specialist in trauma stewardship, joins E-Comm as its full-time Workplace Wellness manager along with certified assistance dog Koltan, a four-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever. (E-Comm)

Koltan (E-Comm)

Just Posted

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Liberal candidate Michelle Corfield speaks on Indigenous issues

Corfield pledges to be a receptive partner in parliament for local First Nations

Lumberjacks in Love on the cutting edge of woodsman theatrics

Navigate your way through the wilderness with some wild antics and well-crafted tunes

Ladysmith doctor rushed to help Hurricane Dorian victims days after his retirement

Potts was asked by Samaritan’s Purse to help at a field hospital in Freeport

Lefebure rebuilds his previous life in construction

Former North Cowichan Mayor enjoys the transition back to physical outdoor work

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

Map on Elections Canada site sends voters to Cedar landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

Most Read