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Ex-Gander mayor disappointed in lack of U.S.-Canada co-operation during pandemic

Ex-Gander mayor disappointed in lack of U.S.-Canada co-operation during pandemicGANDER, N.L. — Former Gander, N.L., Mayor Claude Elliott knows a thing or two about co-operation between Canada and the United States in a crisis — and he's not liking what he's seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.Elliott rose to international prominence when the small Newfoundland town housed 6,600 stranded travellers in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, a story that has been popularized in the award-winning musical "Come From Away." He's disappointed in reports that Minnesota-based manufacturer 3M has been told to stop exporting face masks."I understand the United States is going through a very dramatic time, especially in New York and they need a lot of supplies, but we're fighting an enemy that is just not one state, it's the whole world," said Elliott on Sunday. "And when we come to those times of tragedy in our life, we need everybody helping each other."Elliott has been self-isolating at home and says that when he does go out for groceries or other necessities the streets of Gander are quieter than usual, with people carefully adhering to physical distancing guidelines.It's almost the opposite of what Gander was like following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The town of over 11,500 added about 66 per cent of its usual population for a week as 38 civilian and four military planes were forced to land at Gander's airport when all flights across North America were grounded.Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball criticized Trump's measures on Sunday, saying that he was "infuriated" and highlighted how his province had stepped up for Americans during 9/11.Elliott agreed with his premier."We saw that during 9/11, when U.S. citizens were stranded all over Canada, we took them in and we helped them and gave them the best we could under a difficult situation that they were going through," said Elliott. "The whole world today is going through a difficult situation and it's unfortunate that we're not helping each other."Earlier this week, Gander and "Come From Away" were trending on Twitter in Canada when Florida expressed concerns about letting two COVID-19-stricken cruise ships dock. The ships had passengers from around the world, including close to 250 Canadians.3M, one of the United States' largest producers of the medical-grade face masks known as N95 respirators, said in a statement Friday it had been told by the White House to stop exporting the equipment to markets in Canada and Latin America — a charge the White House has denied.However, President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law that provides the power to redirect U.S. manufacturing capacity in times of national crisis, to compel American producers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators to ramp up their production and prioritize orders for the Federal Emergency Management Agency."If we don't help each other, it will probably be a long, long time before we get over this pandemic," said Elliott, who worked as a paramedic for 30 years. "There's no question about it."By John Chidley-Hill in Toronto.— With files from The Associated PressThis report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 5, 2020.The Canadian Press

Province sidelines firefighters on 911 calls involving coronavirus, flu-like illness

Province sidelines firefighters on 911 calls involving coronavirus, flu-like illnessBritish Columbia Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and the provincial health officer are preventing firefighters in B.C. from attending health emergency calls involving flu-like illness in order to protect them from contracting COVID-19 and to preserve personal protective equipment.The directive came on Tuesday in a letter from Dr. John Tallon, the chief medical officer for the BCEHS, following what he said was an order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.It says that fire first responders will not be sent to "any potential influenza-like-illness or COVID-19 events."On Saturday, Dr. Bonnie Henry further explained the rationale behind the change. She says it was done in 2009 for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, and will make sure paramedics have the lead on coronavirus calls and preserve personal protection equipment PPE."This was a way to best protect our first responders and ensure people got the paramedic response that they needed," she said.Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry say why it's important to have paramedics take the lead on COVID-19 911 calls:Firefighters will be able to go to serious medical emergencies involving life or death circumstances such as heart attacks, but only if they wear N95 masks and appropriate personal protective equipment.They will not be able to use oxygen pumps on patients or do work involving patients' airways until paramedics arrive.Firefighters will be able to help at events where their technical rescue skills are needed. They may also be sent to less severe medical emergencies if paramedics are delayed by more than 20 minutes.Henry also said that calls in general for paramedics have decreased as accidents and other medical emergencies have not been as prevalent in the past three weeks as people spend more time at home. This means that paramedics are better able to meet demands than normal.She said the decision was made in concert with BCEHS and in speaking with firefighters.Vancouver fire chief surprisedOn Saturday, the fire chief and general manager of the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS), Darrell Reid tweeted that his service did not ask for a lesser role in responding to medical calls and was surprised by the announcement.His tweet said that early in the pandemic, VFRS worked with BCEHS to establish a reduction in responses to less serious calls and that "an evidence-based, patient-focused solution," is needed.VFRS has a prominent role in the response to the overdose crisis in Vancouver, which has been severe in the Downtown Eastside.Overdose crisis ongoingThe province is approaching the four-year anniversary of the public health emergency related to illicit drug overdoses.The B.C. Coroners Service says close to three people are still dying a day, on average in the province, from illicit drug toxicity.Vancouver recorded eight suspected overdose deaths in one week in March, the highest weekly toll since August 2019, according to the City of Vancouver.Henry says she is confident that needs are being met and will continue to be under the new directive.The BCEHS says that keeping firefighters on the sidelines for specific calls will help preserve personal protective equipment for health care workers, which includes paramedics.The closest ambulance will still be sent to patients as quickly as possible, it said in a statement.

Sunday 5th of April 2020 06:26:25

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