The Leadership Works, the Medical System Works

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By LCol R. Gordon Bennett, J4, 1st Canadian Division HQ

On 19 June 2018, while on temporary duty in Kingston with 1st Canadian Division, I was involved in a significant motor-vehicle accident. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and the prognosis wasn’t great. In addition to minor lacerations requiring stitches, I had a shattered left pelvis, possible broken femur, and other injuries that would likely require multiple surgeries. I contacted my chain of command in via email on my smart phone using the speech to text function to briefly explain the situation. From that point on, I witnessed the amazing work of our military leadership and health care services in action.

My situation was particularly unusual as I worked for Canadian Army Headquarters but was physically located in Borden. To complicate matters, I was preparing for a posting to 1st Canadian Division for July. This could have resulted in significant confusion. However, both my outgoing and incoming units contacted me, sending over staff from Kingston on a daily basis to confirm my status and ensure both my family and I were being looked after. They even cancelled personal functions and activities after hours to confirm my needs were met while I was in the hospital. Both chains of command offered flexibility with my house hunting trip (HHT), my move, and work start date so as to aid with my recovery. It was very reassuring knowing that I had such excellent support from our military leadership.

Initial assessments the night of the accident suggested a hospital stay of up to a month with months of recovery. However, after two surgeries, a blood transfusion, and nine days in the hospital, my condition had improved enough to be released.

The day of my release from hospital was the previously scheduled start of my HHT in Kingston. Thankfully, both my chains of command both gave me significant flexibility in my HHT, move dates, and leave.

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Our medical system works. I had heard complaints about our medical system but now I was a patient in it and could see for myself if it worked well or not. After my first surgery I was contacted by a liaison nurse from Borden. She ensured I was provided with temporary mobility aids, which arrived within hours at my home in the Borden area. She also arranged for follow up appointments in Borden and Kingston. Meanwhile, the Kingston base pharmacy and MIR were contacted for prescription and medical follow-up. The wonderful staff there ensured I had the support and medications needed to carry me through not only the Canada Day long weekend during my HHT and a four-hour drive home, but also the next several weeks.

Since the accident, recovery has been slow but promising. The physio departments in Borden, and then in Kingston were very helpful. The follow-up appointments in both bases were extremely well done. Sometimes the appointments involved stitches and staple removal, other times for medication, other times to confirm progress. I have no complaints and am very thankful for the support I have received. The system works.

This incident was a textbook example of effective leadership and medical support for which I am truly thankful. My experience with the system came nowhere close to the negative stories I had heard. Although there will be a minimum of one-year of rehabilitation before I am ready to do the FORCE test and ruck marches, I am grateful to know we have such an excellent support network and that the leadership and medical systems not only works, but it works very well.

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