Is it worth the risk?

Hubert Meyers

Dear editor,

Like to socialize? Not wear a mask and forego keeping your distance? Well just remember the alternative. If available, it will be a bed in the ICU with a ventilator and here is what to expect when this happens:

A ventilator is not an oxygen mask. Ventilation is a painful intubation (under anesthesia) down your throat and it stays there until you beat COVID-19 or die. It is that simple. If you are lucky it will only be for 2-3 weeks. The tube will be from your mouth to your trachea and connected to a breathing machine. This machine is what keeps you alive and breathes for you. You will be given medications to paralyze you so you don’t struggle or try to breathe on your own; this would work against the machine and that’s why you at first are rendered unconscious and sedated and have your muscles paralyzed. You will be given painkillers to tolerate this tube for as long as the machine is needed.

After about three weeks of this, you will lose 30-40 percent of your muscle mass. May have vocal cord trauma as well as other complications. This is much worse for older people. Because a lot of them are already weaker, they cannot take this stress and will die. (It could be your grandparents or your parents or your children.) We are all in this together so keep your distance and wear a mask.

I forgot to mention the added benefits when you are in the ICU; you are fully awake and can hear and see everything but you cannot move or talk, so if staff say things you should not hear you will panic. You will be screaming (in your head) but no one hears. There will be no visitors allowed and if you die, you die alone. Another bonus is that you will have a catheter up your urinary tract to collect urine. If lucky, they place a bag on your back side to collect the diarrhea because you will be fed via tube. You will be lucky if an ice matt is available to lay on to keep your temp down. You also will receive the benefits from all the wonderful variety of professional medical staff to do what they need to do, to keep you alive, nourished, medicated, moved and getting better, putting them all at risk.

If you are one of the lucky ones to make it through all of this, ask yourself, was this journey worth it, not to wear a mask and socialize? I THINK NOT.

Take it from someone who has worked in intensive care and the emergency unit.

Stay home if you can and when out, wear a mask and keep your distance, follow the directions in the store and let us make our northwest the best.

Stay safe and healthy,

Hubert Meyers

Is it worth the risk?

Dear editor:
The Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) labour dispute continues. The Ontario government is steadfast in its refusal to bargain a fair deal for 45,000 public service workers and taxpayers.
We are in our eighth week. No mortgage payments made, no saving for university, no family vacations, no new cars, trucks, boats, or motors. Workers are starting to feel the economic pain, but their resolve to negotiate a fair deal also is steadfast.
The forest fire season in Ontario began April 1. Normally, crew leaders and crew bosses are hired by mid-April, and the crew members would have reported for duty by the 29th. People, systems, and equipment are usually ready as the forest fire hazard grows.
Ten four-person crews usually are on alert in Fort Frances, or the forward attack bases at Vedette Lake or Quetico Centre—ready and able to respond to any fire report.
Not this year. There are no crews.
The Ontario government has forced their FireRangers to walk the picket line instead of the fire line. Values from a trapper’s shack to expensive houses, your cabins and cottages, and thousands of hectares of forest are at risk. The management at Abitibi-Consolidated knows what effect a 30,000-ha fire in prime woodlands would have on their operations.
Which contractors will lose their cut blocks, which truckers will lose their equipment, and how many mill workers and managers will lose their jobs? The costs are incalculable, but Ernie Eves is willing to take that risk.
More than 15,000 government workers are required by law to maintain essential services during a strike. These positions are so critical that it is illegal for the workers to strike. The Emergency Service Worker is another group. The Ontario FireRangers are in this category.
In Fort Frances, the emergency agreement requires three four-person crews to work when conditions warrant. No Fort Frances crews have worked or trained since the strike began.
The weather has been cold and wet, but that can change in a hurry. Three days of warm, dry, windy weather can set the stage for an inferno.
Is it worth the risk? The government seems to think so. Ernie Eves is willing to take that risk.
The key to suppressing forest fires in Ontario has been to catch them early and keep them small. For anyone who lives in the north, the potential to destroy timber, jobs, buildings, and lives is very real.
It is difficult to suppress fast-moving fires in normal years, when we are ready. During this labour dispute, we are not ready. Most of the specialized waterbombing aircraft are not ready to fly and some are sitting in hangars with no engines. The crews’ vehicles parked at the Fort Frances MNR with thousands of dollars of equipment in them have no drivers. Normally, they are stored in a secure parking area.
There are three tired fire managers and a fire clerk on duty. There are no FireRangers! Is it worth the risk? Ernie Eves seems to think so.
This strike could be settled very quickly. The only ingredient lacking is the political will to leave our pensions and benefits alone, offer a general wage increase that might catch up to inflation, and offer people real full-time jobs.
Bob Dakin
President, OPSEU Local #711
Fire Management Technician