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Setting up our field hospital to help in COVID-19 response

Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for the most current information about Red Cross programs, support, and tips. 

By Michelle Palansky, Canadian Red Cross
Canadian Red Cross workers come from all walks of life, as all sort of skills are needed during a response to an emergency and disaster.

Sam Dueck standing next to ERU equipmentWith us since 2011, Sam Dueck has deployed as a technician with the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to far away regions like Jordan, Sierra Leone, and Ecuador. His latest posting was much closer to home. He went to Vancouver to set up an alternative care site.

The health care facility will be used, if necessary, to provide additional space for non-coronavirus patients.

“We got it all ready and then we turned the lights off,” explains Sam from his home in Steinbach, MB, after spending 12 days on deployment in B.C.

Travelling in the age of COVID-19 is a muted affair. The airports are quiet. The plane was empty. Sam stood in downtown Vancouver, at a major intersection, without another person in sight.

As a technical facilitator, he was sent to establish the required infrastructure for a makeshift hospital. Sam helped oversee site selection, patient flow, waste and water management.

He is uniquely qualified for his work with the ERU, which often includes setting up field hospitals in countries with limited resources. Sam has built and renovated houses, worked with computer-aided design and drafting, and he specializes as a flooring contractor. He is a holistic handyman.

Along with the excellent training he received from the Red Cross, Sam credits his current depth of knowledge to the ERU training he facilitates for others. After all, the best way to learn is by teaching.
It takes more than a talented generalist to bring a project of this scale together in such a short time frame.

“Putting together a 270-bed hospital, ready to treat people, is a testament to the hard work of lots of individuals in B.C. along with our Red Cross expertise and equipment to feed into the operation.”
The Canadian Red Cross emergency field hospital equipment is being used to augment existing health infrastructure in downtown Vancouver in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All clinical health services will be provided by the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
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