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Emergency medical team arrives in Sudbury

Greater Sudbury's transition from emergency response to sustainable care of Kashechewan residents continued over the weekend as 168 of the 243 evacuees were moved into area motels.

Greater Sudbury's transition from emergency response to sustainable care of Kashechewan residents continued over the weekend as 168 of the 243 evacuees were moved into area motels.

Evacuees that wanted medical attention were also bused to the Sudbury airport where a provincial Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT) has set up shop to treat evacuees and relieve pressure from the overburdened hospital system.

The EMAT includes a 56-bed mobile care unit capable of operating for 72 hours without external assistance, as well as a communications centre, an electric generator and its own water supply.

Created in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak, the Kashechewan crisis marks the first time the EMAT has been fully deployed.

Dr. Christopher Mazza, a spokesperson for EMAT, said the move to deploy in Greater Sudbury is unprecedented.

"This has not been done anywhere in Canada to my knowledge," Mazza said.

The EMAT has seen about 50 evacuees in Sudbury already, averaging about five minutes per patient examined. The team expects to remain in town for another three to four days, treating evacuees from Sudbury and Cochrane, as well as others flying in from the Kashechewan reserve.

Locally, 168 evacuees have been moved from the Lionel E. Lalonde Centre in Azilda and the Millennium Resource Centre in Capreol to a number of area motels. Lionel E. Lalonde is once again open for public use.

"We are currently working towards a more stable governance model that will allow residents of Kashechewan to take the lead in the decisions that affect their daily lives," said Mayor Dave Courtemanche in a media release issued Sunday.

"The City of Greater Sudbury will continue to provide logistical support whenever needed."

City officials say they can accommodate the evacuees for another three to four weeks before a long-term strategy will be required.