The newest member of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VF&RS) has officially joined the ranks; her name is Lola and she’s loved for her calming effect.
As the force’s trauma dog, Lola’s job is to provide comfort to staff dealing with mental injury or illness.
“Really her role is simple… she’s a very mellow, loving dog and that shows when she’s with our members and the responses have been really positive from all the members in our department who have been able to work with her and spend a bit of time with her,” VF&RS acting captain Steve Fraser said a news conference on Monday.
Fraser said he’ll bring Lola into the office in the mornings and leave with her at the end of a work shift. Lola will be around during group and individual meetings.
He said Lola is a great ice-breaker, helping firefighters open a discussion about mental health.
“You can almost just feel the heart rates drop and people feel more relaxed when she’s in the room,” Fraser said.
VF&RS said the move was inspired by recent studies that found almost half of emergency personnel show signs of mental disorders.
“Our call volume is massive. Last year we touched on 70,000 calls, which is unbelievable for any fire department and… we have some holes where guys can go to work and they can be doing 20, 30, sometimes more calls within a 10-hour shift,” Fraser said.
“The stress levels are changing, sometimes we are seeing a difference within our department because of the call types and the call volume, and if Lola can just help one firefighter then she’s done her job.”
Introducing Lola to the team is VF&RS’s latest step in an ongoing effort to expand the department’s mental health program, which has included mental health resilience training, as well as an increase in the treatments and therapies available to staff.
Lola was presented with an official patch on Monday, to mark her entry into the force.
LISTEN: Lola the trauma dog visits CKNW studio during John McComb Show: