EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When hospital security officer Aaron Takenaka makes his rounds, a German shepherd named "Jaro" provides another set of eyes and ears.
"A dog will sense things that I can't. I need to make sure that when he senses something, I'm also aware of that as well," Takenaka said.
In April, The Queen's Medical Center-West Oahu added a two-dog K-9 unit to its security force.
It's the first hospital in the state with security dogs.
"They're working dogs," chief operating officer Susan Murray said. "They come to work and then they go home and live with their trainer."
Queen's West security supervisor Mike Aimoto is teamed with "Westy."
"We've been assisting with several incidents. It's mostly going to be in support of our officers in our normal duties," Aimoto said.
The dogs are trained to sniff out illegal drugs, and can also help diffuse tense situations.
Murray modeled the patrol after K-9 units on the mainland.
"Multiple medical centers East coast, West coast and in the middle have done this quite successfully and have wonderful results," Murray said.
The dogs search the entire facility. Their schedules change day-to-day. The K-9 teams never follow the same route to maintain an element of surprise.
"We do regular patrols -- walk the parking lots, walk the floors," Takenaka said.
Despite metal detectors and security cameras, Queen's felt the need for another layer of security. The dogs are trained to find illegal drugs.
Aimoto and Takenaka trained with the dogs for seven weeks in Indiana. Because the dogs were born in the Netherlands, the handlers needed to master commands in Dutch.
"It was the most challenging mentally and physically that I ever encountered," Aimoto said.
Takenaka added that his K-9 has become like a son.
"I treat him as such, make sure he's groomed and his hygiene is up to date," he said.
The dog unit at West Oahu has done so well, Queen's said it may add a similar security team at its main medical center.