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

23 March 2020

Portrait - Col Moar

Photo: LS Erica Seymour, 4 Wing Imaging

Hello members and families of the Cold Lake Defence Team,

We have completed our first week of reduced operations at 4 Wing and I wanted to provide you an update on how things are going. I am very proud of the way that our entire community has responded to the COVID-19 virus. We owe our gratitude to the front line health professionals, City services personnel, and regional leadership that have continued to keep our community functioning. We must also remain mindful and supportive of the many people in our community, including our 4 Wing family members, who have lost a business or employment due to the impacts of this virus and our local economy. I continue to be wary and concerned at the growing spread of the virus throughout Canada. It is clear that we need to keep improving our preventative measures to prevent further impacts to our community.

With the implementation of our COVID-19 contingency plan, 4 Wing was able to reduce the number of our on-base personnel by 85% last week. This week, as we settle into our new routine of reduced operations, it is my intent to further decrease the number of personnel who are physically working on the base and enable them to remain at home. Our priorities have not changed – we must reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 while ensuring we can still fulfill the critical missions of this Wing. During reduced operations it takes over 200 hundred people just to keep our base minimally functional! A single NORAD mission requires air traffic control, an operations centre, refuellers, runway clearing (snow and ice), feeding services, security, aircraft maintenance, and pilots. We need to be ready to conduct our missions with no notice, every hour of every day. In the background we also need to continue our medical services, heating plant, water testing, facility and utilities maintenance, and critical administrative support. It takes all of us to get the job done, and that’s why we need to take the threat of this virus so seriously – to protect our people.

This week the Wing will be focusing on assessing and improving our reduced operations routine, clarifying a number of policy questions that have been raised by our members (thank you for your submissions!), and planning out the next steps. We are also working hard to improve our coordination and communication with the creation of a 24/7 COVID-19 task cell. Through this task cell we are closely tracking the status of all personnel at CFB Cold Lake and ensuring that our members’ special requests (e.g. compassionate travel, posting changes, etc.) are moving rapidly up the chain of command for approval. We have been receiving outstanding support and response from the entire CAF chain of command and I encourage all Commanding Officers and supervisors to continue submitting your members’ requests for consideration.

Last week I mentioned that we were in the process of ensuring that our members were able to return from international leave and duty as soon as possible. I am happy to report that we were able to repatriate almost all of our personnel last week and they are now in self-isolation. I will remind all of our members that it is imperative that you respect and follow the guidelines for self-isolation. Although each member returning from international travel has been provided with an information package from 22 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre, I would also offer you the Alberta Health Services links below to help guide you through the protocols for COVID-19 self-assessment, self-isolation, actions to take when exhibiting symptoms, and a great link for Mental Health resources:

https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx

https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/amh/page16759.aspx

We have worked very hard during the last two weeks to prepare ourselves for this virus. I am confident that the plans and measures we have put in place will help protect our people and our operation, but our success will depend largely on your personal actions in preventing the spread. Please continue to support and reach out to one another; we need to communicate! On that note, I am working on scheduling a Facebook Live event to answer your questions in the near future. More details to follow this week but I look forward to our virtual chat.

Stay healthy and thanks again to everyone!

Colonel Dave Moar
Commander, 4 Wing Cold Lake

More info at:
DND/CAF COVID-19 Information Page
https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/campaigns/covid-19.html