Canadian Armed Forces send medics to Laval seniors’ residences

Villa Val des Arbres one of five CHSLDs being helped with COVID-19

Martin C. Barry

In response to a request from the Quebec government, the Canadian Armed Forces’ Joint Task Force East (JTFE) has dispatched medically-trained military personnel to the Montreal region to assist at nearly a half-dozen long-term care residences struggling with COVID-19 – including a CHSLD in the Laval area.

Answering a need

Following an agreement between the provincial and federal governments, JTFE personnel with medical experience were deployed to assist Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) with the COVID-19 crisis, said a spokesperson for CAF headquarters in Ottawa.

Members of the CAF’s 4 Health Services Group are seen here training at Saint-Jean Garrison south of Montreal in preparation for deployment to the region, including Laval.

The MSSS had identified long-term care centres (CHSLDs) as institutions requiring the most assistance. CHSLD Villa Val des Arbres on Saint-Martin Blvd. East in Laval was among the care centres selected for assistance. The CAF said it worked closely with its government partners to identify priorities and the facilities where the greatest impact could be made, based on capabilities.

Helping civilian teams

Prior to deploying to selected long-term care facilities identified by the MSSS, the CAF’s teams were liaising with the establishments to clearly assess the essential needs. The CAF says this critical planning process will ensure that military personnel subsequently sent to the facilities will effectively meet the support needs of the civilian teams already in place.

Five long-term care centres in the greater Montreal area are at the heart of the efforts in liaison with the on-site civilian teams. The CAF’s deployed intervention teams are composed of up to 130 personnel, including two nurses and 12 medical technicians, all being assisted by support staff.

‘Proud to serve’

The CAF says that as active members in their communities, the military personnel who are deployed “are proud to be able to help the people of Quebec.” They have been assigned in small groups and have been mandated to “rigorously respect the standards and procedures established by the MSSS for the protection of patients, the public, and civilian and military personnel to combat COVID-19,” according to the CAF.

The tasks performed by the military personnel vary according to the needs identified by their civilian partners. Among other things, the military are supporting the civilian health professionals already in place by augmenting the strength of the resources available at each location.

They were in isolation

In order to be ready to answer the call, members of the 2nd Canadian Division/Joint Task Force (East) team were in voluntary isolation since March 13.

‘We are proud that military personnel are helping to fight COVID-19 in the long-term care centres,’ says Brigadier-General Gervais Carpentier, Commander 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force East

“We are proud that military personnel are helping to fight COVID-19 in the long-term care centres following a request from the Government of Quebec that was approved by federal authorities,” Brigadier-General Gervais Carpentier, Commander 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force East, said in a statement.

Ready for challenges

“Our military health care professionals are ready and equipped to meet the challenges ahead,” said Colonel Manon Asselin, Commander of 4 Health Services Group. “They have the knowledge and skills to work in health care settings together with civilian agencies in order to support their fellow citizens during this difficult time.”

Operation LASER is the name of the Canadian Armed Forces’ overall response to the pandemic. It focuses on CAF preservation, the assessment of CAF activities at home and abroad, and the preparation of the CAF to support civil authorities, as requested by the federal government.

JTFE one of six regions

Joint Task Force East (JTFE) is one of six regional forces established by the Canadian Armed Forces across the country. The task forces are located in key locations across Canada, and they conduct CAF operations on a continental scale.

The CAF says that one of the cornerstones of military medicine is the management of infectious diseases in a military environment such as bases, camps, ships and air stations. As such, they add, preventive medicine focuses on the required skill sets to accomplish the task, and all its health professionals are equally well-trained in this area.

Martin C. Barry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Laval News,