Remembering Canadians who sacrifice for our safety

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta CPSA, Medical Matters, Messenger

Last year, I dedicated this column to the importance of Remembrance Day and 2018 will be no different. However, there are two things that have changed in the last year as I reflect on this important day. First, 2018 marks 100 years since the end of World War One. Second, a new United Nations peacekeeping mission began this year for the Canadian Armed Forces, with our medical personnel deployed overseas to support the mission in Mali, West Africa.

The main purpose of this mission is aeromedical evacuation, with many women and men from the Canadian Forces Health Services once again risking their own personal safety to look after the health and medical needs of others in a conflict zone.

Aeromedical evacuation is never easy, but doing it in a military operational environment adds a whole other level of complexity that’s hard to imagine. Thankfully, the STARS air ambulance teams here in Alberta don’t need a gunship escort to move patients, and they don’t need the protective equipment required of an operational environment. We have incredibly well-trained and well-led medical personnel in our armed forces who will do Canada proud during this mission. I’m confident they will save many lives that would otherwise have been lost if not for their dedication, hard work and desire to be there for others.

A photo I took in 1997, while doing aeromedical evacuations with the Canadian Forces in Haiti.

Sunday, Nov. 11 is a special day of remembrance, where we should all take time to reflect on the sacrifices made by the many men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada, and especially those who have lost their lives or suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of their service. I hope everyone takes a few minutes at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to pause and be thankful for what others have given, so we can all enjoy the incredible lives we have today.

It’s unfortunate that the world can’t find peace; but when the call for help comes, we know there are many men and women in Canada who will willingly step up to the challenge. I highly encourage you to read the article from Dr. William Patton in this edition of the The Messenger. He is one of many Alberta physicians who has served and continues to serve Canada as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. He has painted an incredible picture for you and put forth a challenge for this Remembrance Day that I hope you will all embrace.

Thank you for reading,