Anti-Vaccine Propaganda… the Real Virus


Guest blog by: Lesley Maisey

As adults, we rely on our foundation of life experience and knowledge to guide our decision making. The difficulty lies in the areas where our knowledge is perhaps biased, negatively influenced by media, or incomplete. The question then becomes how do we as health professionals change someone’s opinion on a hot topic such as influenza immunization with all the misinformation and fear mongering about vaccines? The short answer is education.

I had an opportunity to test this with a group of firefighters during the BC immunization campaign for the 2012-2013 flu season. Last year was unique as policy on influenza immunization had changed for this season for firefighters.  In their role as first responders, the mandate was either receive your annual flu shot or wear a mask prior to entering any patient care situation.

Many firefighters arrived at the clinic to receive the flu shot but many felt they were under duress. This resistance was stemming from two main areas of thought: firstly, people like to have choices and resent being backed into a corner with no perceived option. Secondly, the amount of misinformation about the flu vaccine circulating in the news and in day to day conversation was enough to overwhelm the average person. This leaves people with an uneasy feeling that something must be wrong.

In the case of the reluctant firefighters, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to educate either one on one or in small groups about the benefits of receiving flu vaccine. I was able to provide accurate health information and dispelled some of the tales that abound regarding vaccines. In the case of  these firefighters, the end result was the highest compliance rate I have seen yet with regards to influenza immunizations. Adults like to understand why something is important. Armed with information, many of the firefighters who initially declined a flu shot ended up completing a consent form and receiving the shot.

Moving forward to next season, initial resistance can be overcome with education. It is important to take the time to address people’s concerns, dispel the myths and provide the individual with accurate information in order to assist with informed consent.

Education is critical in countering the anti-vaccine propaganda. Propaganda is equivalent to a virus as it is just as infectious and contagious. Let’s work on getting everyone the antidote in the form of information.

Learn more about immunization here:

Lesley Maisey, RN, BSN, COHN(C), MA
Occupational Health Nurse



The MMU on the Move

It’s no secret that Iridia’s Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) project has been a significant focus for Iridia for the past nine months. It was a substantial undertaking and getting the Unit into camp and ensuring it was running smoothly required significant effort by a number of Iridia team members. We were happy that the doctors were comfortable, the Unit was humming along smoothly, and that all the rotations for 2013 were filled. Just when we thought we could relax, we received word that the MMU was going to have to be moved to a new location within the camp. What follows are the accounts from Tom Puddicombe (Director of Business Operations), and Iridia Founder, Dr. Allan Holmes, as they undertook the adventure of getting this complex Unit from point A to point B!


We like to describe the MMU as an RV on steroids with complex hook-ups for water and sewer, hydraulics for moving the sides out and a whole series of scary looking jacks to support the weight of the sides.

When we received word in late August that the Unit would need to be moved in late September, we immediately started the process of planning out the different components that would be involved with the move as we knew that this was going to be a complex and challenging project.  This included securing one of the drivers who had originally brought the MMU into camp.  The plans were coming together well and all was looking good.

However, on September 11, a phone message was received to call the camp immediately. Upon returning the call, we learned that the MMU was to be moved in 3 days’ time, not at the end of the month for which we had planned! We took a moment to catch our breath and then quickly revised the plans we had so carefully laid out. The driver was called off, Allan and I were hastily recruited to assist with the actual move, flights were immediately booked for the next day and off we went. We flew to Fort Nelson Thursday morning (September 12) in preparation for our helicopter ride to camp the following morning.

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We were fortunate to have beautiful sunny weather on the Friday we arrived and immediately began the process of boxing, labelling and waiting for the moving truck. Dr. Denis Thibodeau, one of our MMU physicians, was in camp to help with the move. The goal was to have as much equipment as possible moved out of the Unit by the end of the day. By 6:30 that evening, the Unit was almost empty except for the beds.

Saturday was the official move day and we planned for a 1pm move. At this point, we still had to move the beds out, take down the interior walls, and bump in the side so it would look like a regular truck trailer. The move was only 100 metres but it felt like 100 miles! We got an early start and began the process of collapsing the Unit. In order to do this correctly, we needed to close one side half way, move to other side and close it completely and then return to the original side to push it closed. This being our first time closing the walls, we were more than a little cautious – the last thing we wanted was an overturned truck. Thankfully we were able to get the walls closed without incident. It seemed as though we’d have the Unit moved in no time. Then the fun started.

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Moving the Unit was a mammoth task and we encountered a number of pretty significant, unforeseeable challenges in the process, however, with resourcefulness, some good problem solving skills and the help of a number of trucking experts within the camp, we managed to troubleshoot the problems and move the Unit approximately 100 metres to its new position. After our success in taking down the Unit, we felt confident we could set it up without issues and we were right. The walls were opened, the jacks set and the Unit was levelled without any difficulty. Thanks to all – including special thanks to the Facility Safety Hand in camp – who assisted us with the various aspects and challenges of the actual move.

By this time it was getting dark and the beds were still sitting on the matting at the old location – the 2 hour delay in moving the Unit had not helped us. Saturday is steak and prawns night in camp and we knew the staff wouldn’t want to miss this weekly culinary treat, so we broke and joined the group for dinner.

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After a dinner equalling the finer steak houses in Omaha, Nebraska, we headed back out to the Unit. Thankfully it was still light until 9pm so we took advantage of a few more hours of daylight.  We hadn’t anticipated becoming a special dinner for the bugs who happily feasted on us during the dusk period.  As with many other aspects of the troubleshooting during the move, we “bootstrapped” our approach to the moving of the very heavy hospital beds.  I am not sure this is in the Stryker manual but why not transport the beds by strapping them to a plywood covered pallet and then moving them with a ‘bobcat’ across the yard?  While not an elegant process – dirty roads are very bumpy – it was efficient. The beds were moved one at a time and we managed to get them into the unit by 9pm as darkness was setting in. As we headed off to bed, we knew the heavy lifting was complete and that we could use Sunday to clean and setup the unit to its original form.  We are proud to say we were back in operation with only a six-hour window where the MMU was not accessible if an emergency came up.

Sunday’s pace was much more leisurely. We started with a lovely eggs benedict breakfast and then Tom was able to dispel the myth with his wife about not being able to clean, by cleaning the entire interior of the unit, including scrubbing the walls and floors. Then we brought in the equipment. By the time we sat down for turkey dinner – Thanksgiving came early – we had completed the job.

The weekend was a busy but satisfying one. With a good team working hard, and solving problems on the fly, the move was completed in a short three days.

Now that we are home, we hope that we won’t have to do another move like that for at least a few more years.

SCA Awareness – When an Apple Isn’t Apple

If someone were to ask you “what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of October?” Three likely responses would be:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Halloween
  • My Birthday (if your birthday is in October that is)

October - SCA Awareness

At Iridia, we don’t want to forget about those days, but we would like to see a fourth option. If you’re ever asked that question, we hope you will say “October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Awareness Month.”

Why is SCA a big deal? You may be thinking “why do we need more awareness? Every movie or crime show out there throws a cardiac arrest into their plot.” You are right, however, we know Hollywood isn’t always accurate and we have the statistics to back that claim up!

The most important thing to know is sudden cardiac arrest is not a type of heart attack, that’s like comparing Apples and Oranges. SCA occurs when the heart has an “electrical malfunction” and stops pumping blood to the rest of the body. A heart attack occurs when the heart has a “plumbing problem” where a blockage prevents the flow of blood to the heart. That’s a big difference.

If you’re like 70% of the population, you didn’t know that.

SCA Awareness

As a leader in the development of medical education; it is our responsibility to help spread SCA Awareness. We believe by learning about SCA you can understand the importance of knowing the difference and even help prevent and treat SCA. Knowing the difference, combined with the right tools such as knowledge of CPR and an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), you can administer life saving care to those who need it.

Learn more about SCA Awareness Month and difference between apples and oranges here from the Heart Rhythm Society.

  • Save 10% on all AEDs purchased during the month! *Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts*


A CPR Save In Our Own Backyard

Iridia wants to recognize Kelsey (daughter of Iridia’s HR Manager, Ingrid Vaughan), for receiving a Civic Service Award from the Victoria Police Department for performing life-saving CPR on a friend who had stopped breathing and had no vital signs. While Kelsey was not trained in CPR, she quickly called 911 and with the help of the dispatcher, was able to follow CPR instructions until police arrived on the scene.

At the Award ceremony on October 2nd, the media asked Constable Sean Millard, who assisted Kelsey at the scene, why the Police Department chose her for this award. He said that her willingness to get involved, quick thinking in the face of trauma, working with the dispatcher to correctly perform CPR without any training, and her ability to step away once help arrived and calmly assist the officers with gathering vital information on the incident, made her an exceptional individual.

Civic Service Award from the Victoria Police

Kelsey is joined by Constable Sean Millard (left) and Chief Constable Jamie Graham (right)

This event underscores the importance of being prepared with CPR for emergency situations, but also the call to action for citizens who come upon situations like this, to do what they can to help.

Kelsey’s actions saved the life of a 25 year old woman and we’re proud of her for acting decisively in an emergency with the very best version of herself.

Watch a news clip from the ceremony here.



The GCC Comes to a Successful End!

GCC Walk

The GCC Journey

We’ve been walking, swimming, and biking for four months now, and on September 11th our four month corporate challenge with the GCC (Global Corporate Challenge) came to an end. It’s been quite a journey with 21 of our staff participating on three teams to try to achieve new fitness goals and step up the activity. The mantra for the GCC is “get the world moving” and that is in fact what they did.

This year, 37,432 teams from around the world (that’s 262,000 people!) participated in the Challenge. As this was Iridia’s first year we really didn’t know what to expect, but we were surprised, challenged and encouraged every step of the way.

The Challenge

The Challenge is exceptionally well structured, highly interactive and provides loads of tools, videos, assessments, posters, mini-challenges, awards and statistics to assist team captains in motivating their teams to keep striving to beat their best and up their steps. In addition, the online interface is literally like travelling around the world. As your team logs their steps each week, you “virtually” visit places around the world that are the equivalent of the steps you’ve taken. It was exciting to read about and see stunning photography of new places around the world and to see the distances we were covering as a team.


What was most fun was the community board, where you could post just about anything – acknowledge a personal success, ask a question, vent about something, celebrate your team’s accomplishments, or just share a story about a particular experience – and get responses from people all over the world. It really was a unique experience and added an interesting and “connecting” dimension to the whole process.

On the home front, there was plenty of friendly competition and hijinks between the three teams as gauntlets were thrown down, pranks were played, and team activities abounded during the four months of the challenge. It was just a lot of fun!

Iridia Team Stats

We are super proud of our three teams and what they accomplished, especially this being the first year. Here’s where our teams ended up in a number of categories:

GCC Stats

Our team’s experience with the GCC has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, here are some of the tangible results of the experience on our team:

  • 94% of staff now meet or exceed the recommended 10,000 steps per day, as compared to 19% before the event
  • 93% reported a positive impact on their relationship with exercise
  • 63% reported an improvement in their overall health level from before the GCC
  • 73% reported weight loss, with an average 11 pounds lost per person
  • 58% reported reduced levels of stress at work and at home
  • 71% reported increased overall energy

Supporting Health Initiatives

The GCC also partners with Unicef and raises funds during the challenge for health initiatives around the world. This year, 185 water pumps were purchased for communities who previously had no access to clean water. The people in these communities will experience greater health and opportunities because of this initiative. It felt great to be part of that as well!


The Wrap Up

On October 16th, representatives from the GCC will be joining us at the Iridia office for an end-of-event celebration. While they do this via video with all the companies who participated, not many get one in person, so we’re honoured to be chosen for this privileged visit. We’re looking to closing off our experience with a bang!

The GCC runs from May to September each year. If you’re looking for an exceptional health initiative that will engage your team in ways you never thought possible, consider signing up. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll be competing against you!