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

Mainly cloudy skies ahead for Friday

Plus a look ahead at your weekend

Expect delays as Highway 1 widening in Langford begins this month

Year-long project to widen, add meridians between West Shore Parkway and Leigh Road

Ivy pull, beach clean-up targeted for McNeill Bay

Volunteers aim for big Saturday to restore McNeill Bay

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Island contestant competes on Great Canadian Baking Show

Andrea Nauta auditioned for the show before but was lucky second time around

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Most Read