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Stained glass window at the Deer Lodge Centre Chapel, Winnipeg, Manitoba. This piece was dedicated to the Nursing Sisters of Winnipeg, November 10, 1991.
(Courtesy of The Memory Project/Dorothy Gogan)
My name is Dorothy Jean Gogan. I joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1953 and had a 28-year career 'til 1981.
I spent a lot of my career as a Nurse Educator and some of that time it was at the Canadian Forces Medical Service School, which is in what was originally called Camp Borden, but now units are referred to as CFB - Canadian Forces Bases. So Canadian Force Base Borden. And while there I taught the orientation course for the newly enlisted nursing sisters. And I use the emphasis of the word "sisters" because during my early years of the military we started to take men as nursing applicants to the military. We did that as a result of Lester Pearson, the then Prime Minister, appointing Mrs. Beryl Plumtree to head up the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. And she wagged her finger at the military saying we were reverse discrimination in action because so many trades and occupations in the military were restricted to men only. So, of course, we had to change. And therefore, men were enlisted - enrolled, the better term - enlisted is used in wartime - into the medical services as male nursing assistants, something we'd never had but probably should have had, for years.
I spent several years at the hospital in Borden, teaching on the side, and then had an official appointment to the medical school. While I was teaching there, I had an interesting sideline, in that a retired military nursing sister set up a course for the provincial government to give ambulance drivers some training. Ex-military doctors, and ex-military personnel in general, who are employed anyplace around Borden, often come there for advice and for consultations. And these doctors decided that it was a crime in the Province of Ontario, that any person who wanted to go to a junkyard and buy a beat-up old vehicle, could put a red cross on the side of it and call themself an ambulance driver and go pick up badly injured people at accident sites, knowing nothing about what damage they could do if they improperly handled casualties like that. So a special course was set up and most of the ambulance drivers in the province who had been employed for years were compelled to come to this course to learn the professional side of handling patients. And I became involved in part of the teaching of that, and really liked it.
My positions in the military involved a lot of teaching, but I also have been the Director of Nursing at several hospitals. And I served at an interesting hospital in Fort Churchill on the Hudson Bay, which at that time was a base for the Joint Canadian and Military in Arctic warfare and a lot of testing was done for equipment and things of that nature. And we also had the responsibility of doing the air evacs, which meant that when the C.D. Howe went up the waters of the Hudson Bay, they did that to find TB patients and they examined Eskimo communities, and those who were identified as having tuberculosis were handled only by the military. Civilian aircraft flying into Whitehorse would not take, of course, anybody with open TB. So we had to take people who had never seen an aircraft before, take them on a flight, which they didn't want to do on their back - they don't like to sleep on their back - but that's of course, how you have to travel on a stretcher, down to Winnipeg where they were sent for their initial treatment. And then we had to go down and pick them up and fly them back to their communities when they were ready.
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