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E-Comm welcomes therapy dog to help 911 operators cope with tough calls

Last Updated Apr 8, 2019 at 1:47 pm PDT

E-Comm 911 is bringing in certified assistance dog Koltan, a four-year-old Labrador Retriever. (Credit: E-Comm 911)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –¬†Responding to 911 emergency calls can lead to a great deal of stress, including cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s why the region’s emergency call centre is hiring a therapy dog and clinical counsellor to help staff with emotional distress.

On Monday, E-Comm announced that in response to the threatening situations employees help navigate, they have welcomed a specialist in trauma stewardship and Koltan, a Yellow Labrador Retriever, to assist staff.

“Emergency call-takers and dispatchers truly are the first, first responders,” said Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm’s corporate communications manager.

“Hearing gunfire or the sounds of somebody being attacked — and even silence on the other end of the line — can definitely take a toll on you both mentally and emotionally, especially with the repeated exposure.”

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Bradley says dispatchers sometimes feel responsible for the safety of emergency responders, which can affect their health if it’s not addressed.

“Being able to bring in a full-time clinical counsellor and certified assistance dog will help amplify the support we’re able to provide to our staff when they need it the most,” she said.

In the past, Bradley says E-Comm has brought in therapy dogs following major events. One example is when Const. John Davidson with the Abbotsford Police Department was shot and killed after trying to arrest a suspect.

The assistance dog and clinical councillor will be officially available following Easter weekend.

Bradley says there is still work to be done in developing the program with the specialist. “Together, we’ll create a program that really looks at how she and Koltan can support our staff in the best way possible.”