The James Armstrong Richardson International Airport launched a program to help anxious passengers. Their goal is to help these distressed passengers by pairing them with a therapy dog. This is a partnership between the Winnipeg Airports Authority and St. John Ambulance.
Fear of flying
Teresa Toutant, director of community services for St. John Ambulance Saint-Jean, reveals that they created the program so passengers will have a good customer experience. They want to put them at ease as they travel in and out of the airport.
Lisa Patterson, the airport authority’s manager of customer experience, adds that visiting a trained therapy dog might be what these anxious passengers need. The dogs’ presence can help them ease their fears and calm down while waiting for their flight.
A dog’s healing powers
A short interaction with a dog can already do wonders for these passengers. It can lift their self-esteem while lowering levels of stress and anxiety. The dogs are also trained to identify passengers who are nervous and anxious. A handler will approach these passengers to talk to them and have them pet the dogs.
One dog will be introduced to one airport during the early stages of the program. Volunteers will be in charge of different shifts until they can come up with a more stable schedule. Thirty-eight individuals will take turns in covering these shifts so they can help more passengers deal with their anxiety.
There are so many things going on inside an airport. You have arrivals, departures, and the processing of documents in between. It can be too much for someone who is already anxious about flying. This makes the airport the perfect venue for the therapy dog program. Dogs can help humans calm down, while humans help the dogs socialize. It’s a win-win situation.
Credits to Winnipeg Free Press