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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

COSAR and Kelowna RCMP rescue couple lost at James Lake

The rescue occurred Saturday, July 11

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Okanagan sisters-in-law sleep out successful

Kiley Routley and Heidi Routley raise nearly $2,400 and awareness for youth homelessness

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read