18 March 2020: Message from the Wing Commander, COVID-19

18 March 2020

Portrait - Col Moar

Photo: LS Erica Seymour, 4 Wing Imaging

Hello members, families, and friends of 4 Wing,

I want to express my appreciation and admiration for those of you who have come together during the last two weeks to help make this complex, stressful crisis less difficult for our community. The City of Cold Lake, communities in the Lakeland, and our local health care providers are facing an enormous challenge and have been working tirelessly to respond to the changing situation. With the cancellation of school programs and daycare services, we are now facing an added factor which we need to address. Needless to say, this is an incredibly fluid situation and we need to remain informed, agile, and proactive while keeping our focus on the health and welfare of our people.

On March 16, 4 Wing implemented a plan which reduced our level of flying operations, reduced the number of people who are physically working on the base, and cancelled all group training and non-essential meetings. The aim of this plan is to reduce the potential spread of the COVID-19 disease by reducing social interactions, reducing time spent in shared work spaces, and by increasing social distancing. We continue to insist that our members conduct thorough hand washing and sanitary practices, avoid group social situations, and vigilantly monitor themselves to minimize the transmission risk of COVID-19.

Many of our families have members who are currently deployed on international training or leave. Please be re-assured that one of my highest priorities is the repatriation of our deployed members and that we are in the process of ensuring everyone returns to Cold Lake this week. All of our members who are returning to Canada from international locations, and who are asymptomatic (i.e. no symptoms) for COVID-19, will be directed to self-isolate for 14 days following their arrival. Those members who have disclosed that they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be directed to isolate, inform the chain of command by phone, and consult with 22 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (CFHSC) using the non-emergent line provided in previous correspondence (CAF members only) or dial 811 (CAF members and families). Please note that if any CAF member requires on-base accommodations in order to self-isolate away from their primary residence, they need only to identify their requirement to the chain of command and it will be made available.

I continue to receive new information on an hourly basis from all levels of Government and the Canadian Armed Forces. Today the media reported a number of new measures that will be implemented by the CAF in the coming days. I will provide you an update on those measures tomorrow and specifically address how they will affect our members and their families.

As a final point for today, I remain concerned for the mental health of our community. Everyone will experience this crisis differently and we will see a range of emotions, all of which are normal and expected. You may be feeling acceptance, disbelief, defiance, fear, anxiety, and/or panic to name a few normal reactions to stress and ambiguity. We can help ourselves by doing our best to stay healthy physically and mentally, supporting one another, and communicating with each other despite social distancing practices.

For CAF members seeking mental health services, please visit 22 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre, the 4 Wing Duty Chaplain, or (after hours) call the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Plan (CFMAP) at 1-800-268-7708.

For family members seeking mental health services, please call CFMAP at 1-800-268-7708 or the Family Information Line at 1-800-866-4546.

Stay healthy!

Colonel Dave Moar