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Thank you to our front-line health professionals

A recent experience at his local hospital has given David Hamilton an immense gratitude for front line staff and all they do, especially in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

For those who read my August 2018 blog Increasing wildfires in Canada’s forests: The new normal, you may recall my personal story about how my sister and my niece both lost their homes to the Alkali Lake wildfire. I finished that blog with a shout-out to the BC Wildfire Service for their tireless efforts to help protect life and property in such dangerous conditions. Globally we are facing a new threat today and again I have a personal experience to share.

My mom struggles with several significant health issues. It's safe to say she’s in the top 1% most at risk to the effects of COVID-19. March 11 marked her 89th birthday, and being the loving son that I am, I wanted to surprise her with flowers first thing in the morning. However, I was the one surprised to find her on the bedroom floor, where she had passed out hours before. Dazed, confused and cold, she could not recall what happened. Now, if this had happened a month earlier, I would have immediately called 9-1-1 and proceeded from there. But with COVID-19 now in the picture the path forward wasn’t as clear.

After making sure she was in no immediate danger, I called 8-1-1 (HealthLink BC) and was relieved to hear about the protocols in place at the hospital to deal with at-risk patients. Fast forward through calls to 9-1-1 and EMS, and my mom was on her way to the local emergency room. We spent 8 hours in Emergency before they admitted her for a prolonged stay. I was still extremely concerned about COVID-19 and the risk of exposure but given her condition the hospital was her best option. I knew my mom was where she needed to be to get better.

For the next 13 days, my mom spent time in three different wards, and despite escalating risks and concerns, we visited daily for the first several days. However, as the outside world started to adjust to the COVID situation, so did procedures within the hospital. Patient interactions were evolving, visitation restrictions were intensified, and beds were being cleared where possible. Preparations for the potential COVID-19 onslaught were well under way. 

On March 24th, we got the call - she was going home. It is my opinion that under normal circumstances, my mom would not have been released that early, but these aren’t normal circumstances. We all must adapt during a crisis.

With aging parents, I have visited that hospital many times over the past decade and have always had a huge appreciation for health care workers.  On regular days they are extraordinary examples of care and compassion for their patients and their families. But throughout the COVID crisis, we’re seeing next level heroics from the front lines who are enduring long hours, a shortage of resources and high stress environment, all to ensure our loved ones stay healthy and safe. The risks they are accepting to save the lives of others leaves me speechless. Collectively, we cannot thank them enough.

Some of you may be wondering what this all has to do with GIS technology and COVID-19? Good question…It doesn’t. If you want to read about contact tracing and facility mapping, go to my blog on ArcGIS Indoors here. This blog is simply my way of paying tribute and expressing my sincerest appreciation to all those on the front line of this pandemic. So, to all the health care workers across Canada, on behalf of my mom, my family and Esri Canada - THANK YOU!

About the Author

David Hamilton is the Public Safety Industry Manager for Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on advising customers how to use GIS technology to improve all areas of public safety, specifically (NG)9-1-1, law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management, and search and rescue. Prior to joining Esri Canada in 2010, David managed the GIS for E-Comm 9-1-1 in Vancouver, and worked for the RCMP at the Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games where he managed their Common Operating Picture. Being active has been a major part of David’s personal life; soccer, track & field, skiing, cycling, hiking and now kayaking are all among his favourite activities.

Profile Photo of David Hamilton