A Manitoba man, who has aided in relief work around the world over the years, was recently deployed much closer to home to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Sam Dueck of Steinbach has been with the Canadian Red Cross since 2011. Working as a technician with their Emergency Response Unit (ERU), Dueck’s travel itinerary includes visits to Jordan and Germany during the refugee crisis, Ecuador and Mozambique for relief work following natural disasters, and most recently Vancouver, British Columbia to deal with the current global pandemic.

As a technician, Dueck was in Vancouver for 12 days. Working together with Vancouver Coastal Health, the task was to convert the Convention Centre into a 271-bed alternate care site. The site could be used either for COVID-19 patients, or perhaps those recovering from other medical issues.

of consumables that would be needed in the nursing stations or medical stores. They also supplied things like beds and wheelchairs.

Dueck says travelling during a pandemic was definitely different. He notes airports and planes were pretty much empty. Those that were travelling were spaced far apart.

“I was right downtown Vancouver, right at the centre of the busiest district and it was dead, there was nobody around,” recalls Dueck.

He notes at four o’clock on a weekday afternoon, he could stand in the middle of an intersection and not see another human being.

“So, it was kind of weird being there,” says Dueck. “Vancouver has got a lot of people living there, but it was pretty empty.”

Dueck says their Canadian Red Cross crew followed health guidelines, including social distancing, no physical contact, washing hands regularly and using hand sanitizer. His crew took up an entire floor of a small hotel and while in their conference room, they sat far apart. Meals were done by takeout, without visiting restaurants.