Cheryl Elston - Intensive care assistance

Running time
2 min 3 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Well, we were told our primary mission was to provide a health effect to the UNAMIR troops. So, obviously, that included all the Canadians and everybody else that was over there, and, eventually, Indian troops. That was our primary mission. But, thankfully, not a lot of those troops were injured or become ill. They were quite lucky with that.

So that allowed us to actually shift our focus because secondary mission was, to a lesser extent, we were to provide humanitarian care and trauma support to the locals. And I think quite quickly we realised that that was going to flip because the majority of our patients coming in were locals, so that's where our mission shifted to, whilst always maintaining that we could, at any time, take any UNAMIR troops in if necessary.

My particular role, which, as a medic, I thought we're likely to work on just the ward or something like that, but I was one of a couple medics that was picked to work in intensive care. And at that time, that wasn't somewhere where medics tended to work. But our intensive care nurse, who was the head of the unit, captain, at the time, Annette Outram, hand-picked a couple of medics, and I and a couple of the others worked in there. Not so much assisting but went in to observe and then help with recovery, and it depended on where you were. So when we did some out programs, Butare and a few other places, then we were a little bit more hands-on and assisted in those areas.

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