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August 10, 2018 | Local, Naval

Canadian government to lease two emergency towing vessels


Atlantic Towing Limited of Saint John, New Brunswick, has been awarded a three-year contract worth $67 million for the lease of two emergency offshore towing vessels that will operate in the waters off the coast of British Columbia.

The vessels are capable of towing large commercial ships in distress, such as tankers and container ships, before they get too close to shore, according to the federal government. As part of the contract, Atlantic Towing Limited will also provide training in offshore emergency towing to Canadian Coast Guard personnel and partners, including Indigenous communities, involved in marine safety.

The contract fulfills an immediate operational need to have vessels available as soon as possible, while the federal government works on developing a long-term strategy for emergency towing, the government noted in a news release.

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  • Canada’s air medical transport providers say collaboration, communication are keys to pandemic response

    April 22, 2020 | Local, C4ISR, Security

    Canada’s air medical transport providers say collaboration, communication are keys to pandemic response

    Posted on April 22, 2020 by Lisa Gordon As news of the novel coronavirus – first identified in Wuhan, China in late December – began to percolate its way through the mainstream news media, a few staff members at Ornge, Ontario’s air medical transport provider, began to take notice. “It piqued our interest quite early on, since many of us had been through SARS [in 2003],” said Justin Smith, chief flight paramedic. “We began to figure out what PPE we had and what would be required to move forward.” Canada’s first case of the novel coronavirus, later named COVID-19, was reported on Jan. 15, 2020. Subsequent cases occurred gradually through the end of February, all among travellers who had returned to Canada from countries affected by the virus. The number of Canadian cases increased sharply in March, and that’s when Ornge activated its pandemic plan. Smith was outlining the organization’s response during a webinar hosted by the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) on April 21. Moderated by association president and CEO, Cameron Curtis, the discussion was billed as a town hall meeting focused on the Canadian air medical community’s pandemic response. In addition to Ornge, representatives from Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) and B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) participated in the panel. Ornge, which operates 13 bases across Ontario with a mix of rotary, fixed-wing and land-based patient transport assets, has so far moved 209 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. Overall, 57 per cent were moved with land vehicles, 24 per cent with the Pilatus PC-12 fixed-wing fleet and 19 per cent with its Leonardo AW139 helicopters. So far, the total number of missions Ornge is performing has dropped by about 35 to 45 per cent across the board. Medical director Dr. Michael Peddle attributed that decrease to the cancellation of non-urgent elective procedure transports as well as about a 10 per cent decline in urgent cases compared to last year. Communication has been critical to developing Ornge’s pandemic response. Smith said a joint clinical/operational committee has been formed and meets daily to tackle questions that come up about personal protective equipment (PPE), for example, or the way paramedics carry out clinical procedures. Added Peddle: “We discuss active challenges within the fleet. We write operations clinical guidelines – a living document for all frontline staff including aviation AMEs [aircraft maintenance engineers] and paramedics. It outlines operational management processes, PPE, decontamination etc. One of the things we’ve found very important is communication with frontline staff.” Ornge has implemented weekly town hall meetings for all staff, where some clinical and operational information is provided and questions are answered. In addition, an internal web page provides further resources. “From a process perspective, we’ve made some changes to our pairings and our staffing to make sure we have capacity if we have issues with our workforce being sick or unable to attend work,” said Peddle. Overall, staffing has been adequate to this point, but Ornge has built a plan for surge management to help it meet the needs of communities across Ontario, if required. While all Ornge employees are screened when they come to work, the patient transport provider has also rolled out some additional skills, said Peddle, including prone ventilation and expanded rapid sequence intubation. A standing item on the organization’s checklist is an evaluation of current PPE standards. Ornge medical staff wear gowns, gloves, face shields and eye protection, in line with Ontario guidelines. “One of the mainstays of our approach has been do what you know and do it perfectly,” Smith commented. “We instituted PPE donning and doffing checklists and created a PPE utilization flowchart. As we know in transport medicine, where you don and doff your PPE can vary. We found the flowchart reduced anxiety because it provided rules, including for the pilot group.” While fixed-wing pilots have a high rate of PPE “burn,” it’s much lower with rotary-wing. Helicopter pilots don’t usually have to help with patient onboarding due to the AW139’s self-loading stretcher system. Keeping safe is the priority Ornge is not the only air medical provider who has noticed an overall drop in missions during the pandemic. STARS operates a fleet of Airbus H145, BK117 and Leonardo AW139 helicopters from three bases in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan and one in Manitoba. STARS has been slowly acquiring new H145 aircraft since April 2019, and plans to replace its BK117 and AW139 fleet with a total of nine H145s. “We’re actually seeing a decreased mission volume,” said Dave Evans, senior director, Clinical Services, STARS. “We’re still transporting urgent patients, the typical heart attacks and strokes we would typically transport. ILI [influenza-like illness]-type transports account for 13 per cent of mission volume right now.” Fortunately, COVID-19 spread in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba has been below some of the predictive models, he added, and hospitals aren’t necessarily overwhelmed yet. STARS has so far transported two confirmed COVID-19 patients since the numbers shot up about a month ago. “With the cancellation of pro sports . . . things got really busy within that first week, with the amount of info needing to be shared and the learnings coming out from Europe and China,” recalled Evans. “It became evident we needed to start a small group just to field all those questions from our crew. So we started the COVID Communications Working Group right away. Our role was to support our chief medical officer to make sure we’re following best practices, medical evidence, provincial guidelines across the three provinces. Keeping safe was the priority.” The working group has been sending out frequent communications, both written and video, twice a week. STARS is lucky to have 100 per cent staffing right now, despite a dip in the beginning of the pandemic related to mandatory post-travel isolation. Staff are currently checked for symptoms before each shift, including temperature screening, with documentation required before crews can enter hospitals. Luckily, PPE procurement has been relatively painless and the organization is adjusting usage parameters in accordance with emerging evidence. The COVID Communications Working Group is being led by Dr. Jamin Mulvey, incoming STARS Calgary medical director, who also participated in the webinar. He was working in the U.K. with London Air Ambulance and returned to Canada early in the pandemic. “The biggest challenge is that with a lot of information out there, it’s rapidly changing practices and emerging guidelines,” said Mulvey. “We’re dealing with a lot of opinion and low-level evidence, and we’re trying to sift through it effectively and make robust guidelines for our group. “Some areas that have been a little bit challenging is the discussion on what exactly is an AGMP – or aerosol generating medical procedure – and with non-invasive ventilation strategies, what are the relative risks of AGMP compared to, say, intubation.” STARS has moved away from non-invasive and high flow procedures on its helicopters unless absolutely necessary, based on very strict guidelines and discussion with the on-duty transport physician. Procedures are constantly being evaluated and adjusted where necessary, for both medical staff and flight crews. Jenny Thorpe is a flight nurse who handles stocking and preparedness ordering for the STARS base in Saskatoon, Sask. “Being on the front lines and directly involved in patient care, it’s been a learning curve for myself and our crews,” she told the group. “A month ago, there was a high anxiety level. But we’ve worked as a group and with our leadership, just taking it one day at a time and realizing this isn’t a fast process. It’s a journey that won’t be over quickly.” Thorpe said the team has found success by focusing on the little things that will keep them safe during a mission, such as following strict PPE donning and doffing procedures for medical crew as well as pilots. She is also an advocate of practice drills. “You can talk about PPE and being prepared, but if you haven’t prepared and simulated it, you’re going to miss steps. I encourage everyone to simulate caring for a COVID patient. “It’s about slowing things down, making sure you’re making your decisions with purpose and not reacting.” There is no emergency in a pandemic In Canada’s westernmost province, the BCEHS team is following the same steady, purposeful path. “When we’re doing a call, we’ve emphasized there is no emergency in a pandemic,” commented Dr. Steve Wheeler, BCEHS medical director, Critical Transfers and Aviation Medicine. “It all comes down to crew safety. We don’t rush into it; we plan and make sure everything is set up. We don’t run positive pressure other than intubation. If the patient needs to be intubated for the flight, our threshold is very low, we’ll have them intubated in the sending facility. We try to methodically plan out the whole trip.” With six air bases throughout the province, BCEHS has also noticed call volumes have declined by about 30 per cent. “We’re not doing the regular amount, we’re doing one to two COVID transfers per day that are spread between rotor, fixed-wing and ground transports,” said Wheeler. He said the B.C. team’s Australian manager established a network of about 15 global air medical organizations early on in the process. They met three times a week by Skype “to try to prepare for PPE, crew safety, medical procedures, how to ventilate or oxygenate patients in flight, etc. That was extremely helpful for us.” To prepare for a possible surge, BCEHS paused its paramedic training and released the instructors for work, placing some senior and junior students into station support roles. The organization examined available PPE options and decided to adopt Tyvek suits, which has decreased the PPE “burn” rate. The service also purchased 3,000 silicone half-mask respirators with reusable canisters and face shields. Educating its pilots was a high priority for BCEHS. They were heavily trained on donning and doffing PPE; they wear gowns instead of Tyvek suits. Wheeler said the pandemic has delivered several lessons to the province. “For us, this has highlighted to government and health authorities the need to improve and increase the capacity of our inter-facility transfers. Government announced yesterday they will provide five new aircraft. In every pandemic or catastrophe, sometimes there is opportunity.”

  • Maxar's Radiant Solutions Awarded $92 Million Small Business Innovation Research Phase III contract by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

    October 18, 2018 | Local, Aerospace

    Maxar's Radiant Solutions Awarded $92 Million Small Business Innovation Research Phase III contract by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

    Expands development of machine learning and crowdsourcing capabilities to augment global GEOINT missions HERNDON, VA, Oct. 18, 2018 /CNW/ - Radiant Solutions, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), today announced a $92 million contract award on a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III contract with the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency (NGA) to rapidly develop, prototype, and deploy machine learning and crowdsourcing capabilities to augment a wide variety of NGA missions.  NGA exercised the 2019 contract option year and expanded the value over a three year period of performance. The SBIR Phase III program incents commercial firms to apply innovative solutions to pressing national security problems. As outlined in NGA's recently updated commercial GEOINT strategy, the agency is employing a variety of contracting methods to leverage commercial automation capabilities to augment conventional analysis, giving analysts more time to focus on more challenging, mission-critical problems.  Through SBIR Phase III awards, the U.S. government can fund logical extensions of SBIR Data and receive a royalty-free license to that technology while protecting commercial industry's ability to make these offerings available to the global marketplace. Radiant Solutions participates in the SBIR Phase III program through its ongoing investment in Signature Analyst™, a predictive modeling engine that applies machine learning to massive amounts of geospatial data to help analysts quickly search broad geographic areas. Since 2006, Radiant Solutions and its subsidiary companies have been awarded eight SBIR Phase III contracts across multiple agencies. Radiant Solutions will advance development of machine learning capabilities, such as its DeepCore Computer Vision SDK and crowdsourcing capabilities, such as Tomnod, to help analysts quickly process large volumes of remote sensing data, understand global patterns of life and enable broad area search.  The award also expands support for the NSG Open Mapping Enclave (NOME), a volunteered geographic information operational prototype that enables trusted users on multiple domains to easily create or modify foundation GEOINT to create living maps and enable timely analysis. These capabilities will be available for broad use across the U.S. Government and its global mission partners. "We are excited to expand our SBIR Phase III partnership with NGA and apply commercial innovation in machine learning and crowdsourcing to difficult national security problems," said Tony Frazier, President of Radiant Solutions. "We are fully committed to helping the NGA harness the massive potential of Commercial GEOINT to reveal insights where and when it matters to build a better world." Radiant Solutions has made several recent announcements that reveal how the company is applying Machine Learning and Crowdsourcing to Global GEOINT Missions: Maxar Technologies' Radiant Solutions Awarded Janus Geography Prime Contract by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Maxar Technologies' Radiant Solutions Partners with NGA to Accelerate Innovation in Machine Learning Technologies Applied to Satellite Imagery SpaceNet™ Team Earns the 2018 USGIF Industry Achievement Award The company will be showcasing a number of these capabilities at the NVIDIA GTC DC event Oct. 22-24. About Radiant Solutions Radiant Solutions provides highly specialized, innovative geospatial multisource data, analytics, software, and services to deliver critical insights and intelligence where and when it matters.  Poised to transform how customers support global mapping and intelligence missions at scale, Radiant Solutions harnesses the proliferation of pervasive information-gathering sensors, open-source software, cloud computing, machine learning, and big data analytics.  Our combined team of over 1,000 sensor and spacecraft engineers, geospatial analysts, developers, data scientists, and DevOps engineers delivers innovative geospatial solutions that keep our nation safe, protect critical infrastructure, and preserve scarce natural resources.  Building on the legacy of MDA Information Systems, RadiantBlue, DigitalGlobe Intelligence Solutions, and HumanGeo, the newly combined Radiant Solutions has a strong track record with its advanced capabilities, open approach, and experience supporting missions that helps customers in the GEOINT community reach critical decisions faster and with greater accuracy.  Radiant Solutions is based in Herndon, VA with major offices across Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Michigan, and Colorado.  Radiant Solutions is a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE: MAXR; TSX: MAXR). For more information visit: About Maxar As a global leader of advanced space technology solutions, Maxar Technologies (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates) is at the nexus of the new space economy, developing and sustaining the infrastructure and delivering the information, services, systems that unlock the promise of space for commercial and government markets. As a trusted partner, Maxar Technologies provides vertically-integrated capabilities and expertise including satellites, Earth imagery, robotics, geospatial data and analytics to help customers anticipate and address their most complex mission-critical challenges with confidence. With more than 6,500 employees in over 30 global locations, the Maxar Technologies portfolio of commercial space brands includes MDA, SSL, DigitalGlobe and Radiant Solutions. Every day, billions of people rely on Maxar to communicate, share information and data, and deliver insights that Build a Better World. Maxar trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange as MAXR. For more information, visit Forward-Looking Statements Certain statements and other information included in this release constitute "forward-looking information" or "forward-looking statements" (collectively, "forward-looking statements") under applicable securities laws. Statements including words such as "may", "will", "could", "should", "would", "plan", "potential", "intend", "anticipate", "believe", "estimate" or "expect" and other words, terms and phrases of similar meaning are often intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, expectations, projections, goals, forecasts, assumptions, risks and uncertainties, as well as other statements referring to or including forward-looking information included in this release. Forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from the anticipated results or expectations expressed in this release. As a result, although management of the Company believes that the expectations and assumptions on which such forward-looking statements are based are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements because the Company can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. The risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, but are not limited to, the risk factors and other disclosures about the Company and its business included in the Company's continuous disclosure materials filed from time to time with Canadian and U.S. securities regulatory authorities, which are available online under the Company's SEDAR profile at, under the Company's EDGAR profile at or on the Company's website at The forward-looking statements contained in this release are expressly qualified in their entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements. All such forward-looking statements are based upon data available as of the date of this release or other specified date and speak only as of such date. The Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements in this release as a result of new information or future events, except as may be required under applicable securities legislation. Investor Relations Contact Jason Gursky Maxar Technologies 1-303-684-2207 Media Contact  Andre Kearns Radiant Solutions  1-703-480-6290 SOURCE Maxar Technologies Ltd.

  • The Royal Canadian Navy to receive a sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship

    November 2, 2018 | Local, Naval

    The Royal Canadian Navy to receive a sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship

    November 2, 2018 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces As part of Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, the Government of Canada is acquiring the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) to bolster the Royal Canadian Navy’s capabilities while equipping its women and men with versatile and reliable vessels to complete their vital missions. Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence announced that the Royal Canadian Navy will receive a sixth patrol ship, which will help sustain hundreds of highly-skilled middle class jobs at Irving shipyards. The Royal Canadian Navy needs a diversified fleet to respond to the challenges it faces today and will face well into the future. The AOPS will patrol Canada’s oceans, including the Arctic, and are perfectly suited for missions abroad to support international partners, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, search and rescue, and drug interdiction. A sixth patrol ship will greatly increase the capacity of the Royal Canadian Navy to deploy AOPS simultaneously, at home or abroad. Additionally, a fleet of six AOPS will allow our frigates to focus on further tasks, allowing the RCN to use its fleet more effectively. The Government of Canada is also committed to providing the best economic opportunities for Canadians. Through the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the Government of Canada is providing the Royal Canadian Navy with safe and effective vessels to carry out their missions, while providing meaningful economic opportunities for Canadians.   Quotes “I am delighted to confirm today that the Royal Canadian Navy will receive a sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, as outlined in our defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged. This versatile vessel will offer greater capabilities to our women and men who will sail on the AOPS and will bolster the RCN’s future operational capacity.” Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister “The National Shipbuilding Strategy continues to create social and economic benefits for Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The construction of the sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship underscores our commitment to maximizing stable employment for our skilled shipbuilders, while supporting the brave women and men of the Royal Canadian Navy in their important work.” Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility “I could not be more pleased with the decision to proceed with the construction of the sixth AOPS. These ships will enhance the RCN’s capacity to operate in the North, while continuing to contribute to a wide range of security, humanitarian and capacity building operations at home and around the world.” Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander Royal Canadian Navy Quick facts The decision for a sixth ship was made possible after ensuring adequate funding for the acquisition of the ship, as well as the modified production schedule. The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships will significantly enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ capabilities and presence in the Arctic, as well as augment their presence on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, better enabling the Royal Canadian Navy to safeguard Canadian Arctic sovereignty.  The AOPS are highly versatile platforms that can be used on a variety of missions at home and abroad, such as coastal surveillance, search and rescue, drug interdiction, support to international partners, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief. Three ships are in full production and steel cutting for the fourth ship is planned for this winter. The first AOPS is now in the water and is expected to be delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy in summer 2019. Associated links Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships Future HMCS Harry DeWolf given official title at naming ceremony HMCS Harry DeWolf National Shipbuilding Strategy Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy Contacts Byrne Furlong Press Secretary Office of the Minister of National Defence 613-996-3100 Media Relations Department of National Defence Phone: 613-996-2353 Email:

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