Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Northwest Territories Project

DAY ONE: August 28,2006

Team Northwest Territories met at the Vancouver airport to begin our northern adventure. The team consisted of Dr. Liz Bartlett (Langley BC), Dr. Brigitte Rudolf (Burnaby, BC), Dr. Ken Seaman (Courtney,BC), Robyn Luscombe (technician –Squamish BC), Kristina Gansen (tech – Comox BC), Jennifer Rabie (tech – Summerland BC), Donna Lasser (tech – Hope BC), Steve Howe (Sequim, Wa,) Corinne Barker and Barb Ashmead (Assistants – Vancouver Island). Before we checked ourselves in at Westjet for our flight to Edmonton and then on to Yellowknife, and so not to exceed our available baggage and weight allowance, we had to distribute all of our medical supplies amongst ourselves, in every nook and cranny and available space in our suitcases and backpacks. Somehow we managed to squeeze it all in somewhere, and made it through check-in with no problems or extra costs whatsoever.

We were carrying an insulated bag filled with vaccines on ice packs which Wyeth had so generously donated for this project, and somehow Kristina managed to end up carrying the bag as one of her carry-on pieces of luggage. As she went through security she was asked what was in the bag and was pulled aside immediately and questioned at length. The rest of the team noticed Kristina hadn’t yet come through security and met up with us, so Ken volunteered to go looking for her. He finally found her and he was able to produce a copy of his Veterinary license. This helped the case for the vaccines to be let on to the plane, but it wasn’t enough. I wondered what was taking Ken and Kristina so long so I went to investigate. When I realized the hassle these vaccines were causing, I offered the security officer a letter from the NWT government stating why CAAT had been invited to come north and what we were going to be doing there, including vaccinating hundreds of dogs. We were then told we were okay to proceed.

The flight from Vancouver to Edmonton was one hour in length, and we had a three hour wait for the connecting flight with First Air to Yellowknife NWT. Lorraine, a journalist from Kelowna, met up with us in Edmonton to continue on with us. We spent a large part of that time as a group, going over the details of what the project was all about, what to expect to see and do, the anesthetic protocols, etc. Just as we were about to go to our boarding gate, we were told the plane was delayed for two more hours. First Air graciously apologized and gave us each a $17 free dinner voucher to use in one of the airport’s restaurants.

By the time our flight arrived in Yellowknife, it was 10:30pm Mountain time, and we were quite exhausted. We were met by the government agent from Yellowknife who made it all possible for us to come to the NWT and offer our services. He had rented a 10 passenger van and managed to squeeze all of us and all of our luggage and medical supplies into the vehicle for the ten minute drive to his home. We used up every bed and any available floor space in his house, sleeping bags everywhere, and settled in for a short but restful sleep, eager and ready to begin our adventure next day.

---Donna Lasser, Team Leader

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