From St. John’s to Benin – medical officer shares knowledge

Lt(N) Greg Morrow supervises while local teachers practice first aid at Foyer Don Bosco school in Cotonou, Benin, during Operation Projection West Africa. Photo by Cpl Angela Gore

Lt(N) Greg Morrow supervises while local teachers practice first aid at Foyer Don Bosco school in Cotonou, Benin, during Operation Projection West Africa. Photo by Cpl Angela Gore

Lt(N) Jeff Lura, PAO Operation Projection West Africa ~

On the first day of March, sailors from HMC Ships Kingston and Shawinigan arrived at Foyer Don Bosco, a small school in Cotonou, Benin, nested within West Africa’s largest open-air market.

Using their expertise coupled with good old “elbow grease”, they painted walls and repaired furniture in the school. Afterwards they played games with the children.

On the same visit was medical officer Lt(N) Greg Morrow, but he had a different mission. He was there to teach basic first aid to a group of enthusiastic teachers. His lessons were made more important by the fact that ambulances and hospitals are not widespread in Benin; in many cases, teachers would be the only care available to an injured student.

“It was a challenge,” said Lt(N) Morrow after the training. “We [in Canada] take for granted that medical care and supplies are available everywhere, but that’s not the case here. I had to really keep it simple, since these villages lack basic services and emergency response.”

With the help of a translator, Lt(N) Morrow demonstrated how to deal with cuts, scrapes, fractures, and spinal injuries in a way that would be useful to the teachers after his departure. By all accounts, his instruction was well-received.

“It was perfect,” said teacher Pascal Akakbo after the training. “We’re confronted with problems and injuries here all the time, so a better understanding of how to respond will do so much good. We will use this [newfound knowledge] very often.”

When he’s not sharing his expertise to the far corners of the globe, Lt(N) Morrow spends his time at sea mentoring the ship’s casualty clearing teams, providing care to the crew, and generally expanding his knowledge of the Royal Canadian Navy.

For those considering life as a CAF medical officer, he has a few words of wisdom.

“My military career has been amazing so far, and I’d recommend it to any of my colleagues. In addition to the medical challenges and professional development opportunities, I’ve fired a .50 calibre machine gun, driven a small boat, undergone a traditional crossing the line ceremony, and so much more. You just don’t get to experience things like this in civilian practice.”

He hails from St. John’s, Newfoundland, and completed his medical training in 2018. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces shortly thereafter. Mere months into his career, he was selected to join HMCS Kingston to deploy to West Africa.

“Medical officers don’t get to sail very often,” he explained, “so I jumped at the opportunity. That said, I knew had my work cut out figuring out life in a ship.”

On his return from West Africa, Lt(N) Morrow will serve as a General Duty Medical Officer at Canadian Forces Health Services (Atlantic), providing care to personnel at CFB Halifax and the surrounding area.

The Canadian Armed Forces are currently hiring medical officers, and more information can be found at www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/caf-jobs.html.

Filed Under: Top Stories

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