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How The Ottawa Hospital’s ‘Code Orange’ worked to save lives

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Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa


Published Monday, January 14, 2019 4:01PM EST


Last Updated Monday, January 14, 2019 4:11PM EST

Less than two months ago, the Ottawa Hospital practiced for this very scenario; a “Code Orange” involving more than 20 patients.   That practice undoubtedly saved lives. The Ottawa Hospital is the trauma centre for Eastern Ontario.  So, it’s got to be ready to deal with 3 or 4 critically injured patients.  Few hospitals anticipate a mass casualty of this magnitude.  But the Ottawa Hospital says its practice paid off; it was ready to react.

One by one, the ambulances came screaming to halt Friday night outside the Ottawa Hospital’s Emergency department.  Ferrying patients with injuries, as one doctor said, from head to toe. 

Dr. Guy Hébert is head of the department of emergency medicine at The Ottawa Hospital, “This was quite a horrific crash,” he said in a telephone interview Sunday, “Head injuries, and spine injuries.  We saw, chest, abdomen and lots of limb injuries as well.”

Moments before the patients started arriving, the hospital had called a Code Orange signaling a major event with significant injuries. 

Dr. Andrew Willmore is the medical director for the Department of Emergency Management at The Ottawa Hospital.

“It’s the biggest response we have had in context of a mass casualty in recent history,” Dr. Willmore said, “both because of the number of patients and the really severe acuity for folks coming in.”

Within 20 minutes, 8 trauma teams were set up, each with 10 to 12 specialists, ready to encounter whatever scenario might present itself.

“I’ve been able to observe when a trauma comes in,” says Joanne Read, the Vice-President of Planning and Support Services with The Ottawa Hospital, “The amount of people involved in a trauma, to respond and be able to provide that care is amazing  and they all come together like a symphony.”

That “symphony” started playing a well-rehearsed number:  emergency physicians and nurses working in concert with orthopedic surgeons and anesthetists, with one goal in mind:  saving lives.

“Of all the patients that came to our hospital alive,” says Dr. Willmore, “everybody survived. That was testament to a lot of hard work from a lot of people.”

The Ottawa Hospital’s last “Code Orange was that collision involving a VIA train and another double-decker bus in 2013, where 6 people died and many more were injured.  Since that incident, the Ottawa Hospital has done 9 official exercises, including one in November in a scenario eerily similar to this one involving more than 20 patients but focused on a mass shooting instead of a crash. 

“Nothing can prepare you for an event like last Friday,” says Dr. Willmore, “but the lessons learned from that exercise helped us very much and things went very smoothly.”

Dr. Willmore says he’s extremely proud of his team, and with reason. 

There has been a domino effect at the hospital because of this massive response.  Many elective surgeries were put on hold but he says teams are working now to reschedule them.

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Federal Budget 2021: Ottawa adds $1B to broadband fund for rural, remote communities

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The federal government will add $1 billion to a fund for improving high-speed communications in rural and remote areas of Canada, bringing the total to $2.75 billion by 2026, the Liberals said Monday in their first full budget since the pandemic began last year.

The money is going to the Universal Broadband Fund, which is designed to support the installation of “backbone” infrastructure that connects underserved communities to high-speed internet.

It’s one of many government and private-sector initiatives that have gained urgency since the pandemic began, as Canadians became more dependent on internet service for applications ranging from e-learning to daily business operations.

Ottawa says the additional money will keep it on track to have high-speed broadband in 98 per cent of the country by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.

Money spent on high-speed communications will be good for a recovering economy, said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, a non-partisan think-tank.

The latest data from Statistics Canada says there were about five million people working from home during the pandemic, up from about two million prior to that, Antunes said in an interview.

“That’s a quarter or so of the workforce,” he added. “And I think a fair number of those people are going to continue to work from home, at least in some part-time way.”

Improved connections to high-speed broadband and mobile communications will add to the productive capacity of the economy overall, especially as it reaches beyond Canada’s cities, Antunes said.

He said there’s been a “real issue” with economic growth outside major urban centres and the improved connectivity “is something that can help stimulate that.”

The Universal Broadband Fund was initially mentioned in the 2019 budget, though specifics were not available until last November’s fiscal update.

The $1-billion top-up to the broadband fund announced today is in addition to $1.75 billion promised to the fund by the federal government’s November fiscal update.

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COVID-19: What you need to know for April 19

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Provincewide

  • Per today’s government report, there are 4,447 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 421,442 since the pandemic began; 2,202 people are in hospital, 755 of them in intensive care, and 516 on ventilators. To date, 7,735 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 40 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 36 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 127 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,755 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • Per the government’s report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 7 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 66,897 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 3,904,778 since December 2020. 3,212,768 people have received only one dose, and 346,005 people have received both doses.

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Federal budget 2021 highlights: Child care, recovery benefits, OAS increases – everything you need to know

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The federal government’s first budget in more than two years certainly looks the part: At 739 pages, it is a hefty document chock full of billions in new spending.

Those funds will be spread among a number of key groups – students, seniors, parents and small-business owners, to name a few – as Ottawa looks to bolster Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 but also plan for life beyond the pandemic.

To that end, the deficit is projected to hit $354.2-billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which just ended – better than expected about five months ago, given the economy’s resilience over the winter months. It is estimated to fall to $154.7-billion this fiscal year, before dropping further in the years to come as pandemic spending recedes from view.

Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s budget.

The budget outlines tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies for a national child-care program, a promise the Liberal Party has made in some form since the early 1990s. Child-care supports became a point of national debate during pandemic lockdowns as parents with young children struggled to juggle work and family responsibilities.

In total, the government proposes spending as much as $30-billion over the next five years, and $8.3-billion each year after that, to bring child-care fees down to a $10-a-day average by 2026. The proposal, which requires negotiation with the provinces and territories, would split subsidies evenly with those governments and targets a 50-per-cent reduction in average child-care fees by the end of 2022.

The federal program is largely modelled on Quebec’s subsidized child-care system, implemented in the 1990s in an effort to increase women’s access to the labour market. Since then, labour participation rates for women aged 25 to 54 in the province have grown to exceed the national average by four percentage points.

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