By Ranger MCpl Chris Vernon
Local Ranger Patrols and two “Ranger Go Teams” consisting of approximately 100 members of the Third Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3CRPG) are standing ready to assist in a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination effort underway in 32 Northern Ontario First Nations communities, if requested.
3CRPG’s preparation for the Indigenous Services Canada-led Operation Remote Immunity 3.0 (ORI 3.0) began on November 13, after Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino approved Ontario’s request for the Rangers to provide logistical support during vaccination campaigns in Northern Ontario. The operation is slated to conclude March 31, and this the third time Ontario Rangers have assisted with a community vaccination drive.
“We have stood up two Ranger Go Teams and 3CRPG is prepared, if requested by the community, to help in this current vaccination roll-out,” said 3CRPG’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur.
The goals of ISC’s ORI 3.0 are to:
– Give third doses to all eligible individuals;
– Provide first and second doses for children ages 5 to 11;
– Provide first and second doses for those aged 12 and over that have not yet been vaccinated and have indicated they want to receive a dose.
Members from 3CRPG, with assistance from army personnel, will help provide local transportation co-ordination, translation, assist mobile vaccination teams, distribute information materials, and provide administrative support, including conducting COVID-19 pre-screening questionnaires.
“In the past, we have arranged transportation for elders to the vaccination clinic or transported the vaccination teams to and from the clinics, or supplied them with water. Whatever they needed. We are pleased to help them in their vaccination campaigns. Whatever is in the best interest of the community,” said Lieutenant-Colonel McArthur.
3CRPG operates patrols in 29 Ontario First Nations communities and will send a Ranger Go Team to support a vaccination campaign if requested by the band council. In addition to its 29 patrol areas, 3CRPG will also assist three communities that do not have patrols, if the assistance is requested.
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has received and responded to 70 COVID-19-related requests for assistance from provincial or federal partners since the pandemic began in 2020.
The Canadian Rangers are members of the Primary Army Reserve. Anyone can join the Rangers, however members are predominantly First Nation and live and serve part-time in their Far North communities.