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

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Body of ATV rider recovered from bottom of Terrace trail

BC Coroners Service investigating death of man in his 70s

All Nations, Haisla teams hoop basketball tournament titles

Eighteen teams across two divisions faced off Aug. 8-10

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

B.C. log export rules killing us, northwest harvester says

NorthPac Forestry says Skeena Sawmills has plenty of timber

Most Read