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Trauma dog a calming influence at Surrey Memorial Hospital ER
B.C.'s busiest hospital emergency department has a new addition to its staff: the only member of the team to do his rounds on four legs.
Koltan is a trauma dog, and he's making a big difference at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
The canine brings comfort to patients and their families, especially those who have suffered relationship violence and sexual abuse.
"He's just a very calming influence. (He) really, really helps people to feel like everything's going to be OK," said Lynn Gifford, a forensic nursing clinical co-ordinator.
The working pup is the first of his kind to be in a B.C. hospital full-time, and after a few months, his presence is making a big difference.
Dr. Jaskiran Brar brought Koltan to see a patient with a brain injury.
"He was really helpful in engaging the patient, and we as staff weren't able to do it. That was the first time we saw the patient liven up and interact, so it was really amazing," Brar said.
The proven effects of trauma dogs on patients is why they've been summoned to Las Vegas. Delta police trauma dog Caber is one of several working in the city to comfort both victims and first responders in the wake of the Oct. 1 mass shooting.
Studies show that contact with animals lowers blood pressure and slows breathing in people who are anxious. Fraser Health hopes to have a team of therapy dogs available next spring.
And the dogs don't only benefit patients. Staff at Surrey Memorial also feel calmer when Koltan is around.
"I think his presence even for five minutes can decompress that stress," Gifford said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim