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First phase of health study released for fire onboard HMCS Chicoutimi

The Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Health Services Group have finalized the first phase of a health study which was designed to systematically document and describe the health effects associated with exposure to the October 2004 fire onboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Submarine Chicoutimi.

 The Health Study followed 250 participants including 56 crewmembers, 42 members of the Care and Custody Team who looked after the submarine following its return to Faslane, Scotland, and 152 randomly selected submariners (acting as a control group). 

Stage one of the studies analyzed the health of participants in the five years preceding the fire and five years following the fire.

 The Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy has invited the former members of HMCS Chicoutimi, and the Care and Custody Team, to attend a Town Hall meeting at Canadian Forces Base Halifax where the results of the health study will be shared, and options for the next phase of the study will be discussed.

“More than ten years ago, one of my predecessors as Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy met with the former members of HMCS Chicoutimi and committed to undertaking this health study, the results of which were unacceptably delayed. 

“For this, I unreservedly apologize to our members and their families. We should have done better. As the mental and physical wellbeing of our sailors and the care of our people is our first priority, we appreciate the significance of the study’s findings, and the importance of continuing to monitor the health of everyone who was exposed to the fire,” says Vice Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Royal Canadian Navy.

 The Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Health Services Group remain committed to undertaking this study and will continue with the next phase of the study with input received at the upcoming Town Hall.

“I am struck by the grit and determination of the crew during and after the fire aboard Chicoutimi and also of the quality of the medical and mental health care they received following the incident. This report identifies not only the health impacts sustained by the crew but also serves to improve our response to future traumatic events,” says BGen Andrew Downes, Surgeon General of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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Paige LeClair

As a recent graduate from the St. Thomas University Journalism program, Paige has a passion for storytelling and investigative journalism. In 2016, she, along with her journalism team were awarded first place at the Emerge Media Awards in the multimedia category. The team was also a finalist at the Canadian Association of Journalist Awards. She is excited to work with other military spouses providing stories and information to the military community. Paige is newly married to Andrew, a Lineman, and moved to their first posting in Petawawa in May of this year. She is excited to begin this journey with Andrew, their dog Diablo, and cat, Linux

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