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Head of Nova Scotia’s ambulance service sounds alarm over own system

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Making sure there’s an ambulance available to respond to a 911 call, no matter where help is needed in Nova Scotia, has become a minute-by-minute challenge for Emergency Health Services dispatchers.

Faced with overburdened ERs and a growing number of calls, they are constantly shifting crews from one community to another in effort to ensure adequate response times. The latest projection is that ambulance crews will log a total of 16.5 million kilometres this year.

Jeff Fraser, director of provincial operations for EHS, is worried about the wear and tear on an increasingly fragile system and said he believes it’s time for an overhaul.

“The safety net is getting thin,” he said. 

“Our EHS system model is really difficult to marry up with what’s happening currently within our system and so in order to be sustainable, we really have to look at the way that we operate.”

Jeff Fraser is the director of Emergency Health Services in Nova Scotia. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Fraser points to the fact ambulance crews are sometimes spending entire shifts waiting with patients in hospital corridors, rather than on emergency calls, because emergency rooms are overcrowded.

This inability to hand over patients in a timely manner has been a benefit to Halifax-area taxi companies that are ferrying paramedics to and from hospitals at the beginning and end of their shifts.

In the past six months, EHS has spent $10,000 in cab fares to do just that.

Fraser is hoping a review commissioned by the province will lay out the need for major changes.

“Certainly status quo is not an option for us,” he said. “We’re going to need to begin to change the way we deliver service over the next few years.”

Firm hired to review system

A month ago, the province hired Fitch and Associates, a U.S.-based consulting firm to review the current EHS model and provide recommendations “for the most efficient, effective and sustainable EMS system in Nova Scotia for the next 10 to 15 years.”

The $145,000 contract calls for a final report by Dec. 28, 2018.

The time frame has been designed to give provincial authorities plenty of time to act on the recommendations before the ambulance service contract runs out with EHS in 2020.

Fraser is convinced the slow transfer times at hospitals will figure prominently in that final report.

“There’s no way that the offload issue won’t be apparent in the report,” he said. “It impedes our ability to operate our system each and every day.”

The union representing paramedics says morale is at an all-time low. (Robert Short/CBC)

It’s a problem that dates back more than a decade. In fact, a June 2007 auditor general’s report noted “that ambulance redeployment due to delays in Halifax emergency departments affected communities as far as Bridgewater, Oxford, and Yarmouth.”

“We concluded that [the ambulance service] is subject to an increased risk of not being able to respond effectively to emergency situations due to unavailability of ambulances during these time periods,” the report said.

That’s when the service was responding to about 90,000 calls. It is now dealing with 170,000.

Add to that ER closures, service disruptions and an increase in the number of non-emergency transfers, and you have a system stretched to capacity, said Fraser.

“We’ve had a demand increase of about four per cent over the last number of years and some of these other operational impedance like the inability to offload patients at the hospital and the longer time on task, if that was to continue the EHS system would be stretched beyond what would be reasonable.”

A newly expanded and renovated EHS dispatch centre opened Wednesday in Halifax. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The union that represents paramedics agrees.

“Morale is at all-time low,” said Michael Nickerson, president of IUOE Local 727.

“You know paramedics are working harder, working longer, missing meals, shift overruns, offload delays in hospitals, and you know we haven’t seen any increase in compensation either and that affects people.”

The union has been running a social media campaign since last winter calling on Nova Scotians to pressure provincial politicians to demand changes to the service.

Despite the pressures, the ever-shifting resources and the growing demands, Fraser has nothing but praise for paramedics who he believes are the glue that keeps the service together.

“Absolutely it’s my job and my team’s job to support them so they can execute their duties,” he said. “And they work hard every day, so we really appreciate that.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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