Kadlec Regional Hospital will add K9 in the new year

RICHLAND, Wash. — As snow blanketed the ground Monday morning, the K9 employee colonel with Kadlec showed off his skills.

“He just can’t wait to get up every morning and get to work,” handler Phil Reams said.

The Colonel is a five-year-old German Shepherd who patrols Kadlec’s main campus in Richland. The program began in 2019, as the first K9 manager and team at any local hospital.

Reams said the Colonel not only helps keep campus safe, but brings joy to staff and patients.

“Just walking down the hall, they’ll have a smile on their face,” Reams said.

RELATED: Kadlec to Launch K9 Program in 2019

In the new year Kadlec brings an additional K9 unit. Employees said the dog will be trained to detect explosives, unlike the Colonel, who can detect narcotics.

“We’ll go to Alabama and we’ll train for about eight weeks and they’ll get to know each other and then we’ll bring them here and they’ll be ready to go,” Reams said the training is vigorous.

Reams, who worked at the Benton County Jail, said it was rewarding to work with man’s best friend. He explained that if tensions are high, it’s usually helpful to just bring the colonel into the room. Reams said that as workplace violence in hospitals increased, it was important to have K9s like the Colonel.

“Since we adopted this program, we have found that our use of force has decreased significantly,” he said.

Kadlec employees said the new dog should be on campus by spring 2022. They hope to increase the number of hours the dogs can be on patrol and bring them to other Kadlec campuses, such as emergency care or Kennewick’s stand-alone emergency room.

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