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Carbonear emergency unit takes freezing plunge for good cause

Representatives of the emergency unit and O’Shaughnessy House in Carbonear at this year’s polar dip.
Representatives of the emergency unit and O’Shaughnessy House in Carbonear at this year’s polar dip. - Submitted

SALMON COVE, NL – Local healthcare professionals took a chilly dip in the ocean during the second annual polar dip held Saturday, Feb. 10 at Salmon Cove Sands.
The polar dip is an initiative to raise funds for local organizations related to healthcare, organized by representatives of Carbonear General Hospital’s emergency department.
Participants took the plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, which was around 1.1 degrees at 3 p.m. on the day of the dip.

While this is only the second year for the polar dip, participant Dr. Chris Patey of Carbonear General Hospital said it was successful, and he’s looking forward to making it an annual event.

“It's a fun thing, even if it's a little cold,” Patey said with a hearty chuckle. “But it's for a good cause, for sure. This year we raised around $5,000, so hopefully that's a trend we can continue in the coming years, because I know I'd like to see it happen every year.

“This year we had a pretty decent day for it. It was around 5 degrees out, while last year it was -16 degrees … That’s a major difference, but the water was still freezing. But it’s definitely a good bit of fun, regardless of that.”

Patey said while the event’s purpose is to fundraise and help other organizations, he also sees it as a way to build a stronger team bond within the emergency unit, giving staff an opportunity to do something outside of their department.

The emergency unit had 10 people take the dip, ranging from emergency doctors and nurses and paramedics. Members of the local fire brigades, as well as some members of the cold-water rescue team – part of the Wolverine’s Search and Rescue team from Bay Roberts –were also present at the event, which served as a practice session for them.

Fundraising took place for approximately a month prior to the Feb. 10 date, with proceeds this year going toward O’Shaughnessy House, a women’s shelter in Carbonear, while last year’s proceeds went to the local food bank.

“We here at the emergency department always have a connection with those kinds of shelters, but this allowed us to really strengthen that connection even more,” said Patey. “We got a tour of the building, and from my angle as the critical chief of the emerg here, it’s really nice to see these places and understand what they do.”

Proceeds from the event will be going directly to the shelter, and Patey explained that O’Shaughnessy House is considering different ways to utilize the money, with education programs and some onsite structural changes being at the top of their list.

The quick dip in the water can be rather cold, despite some participants having a certain affinity for colder temperatures. To finish off the afternoon’s activities, the water-logged participants gathered around a beach fire to warm up and engage in some extra team-building as a group.

“I think for us, it just gives us a good sense of community,” Patey said. “All these people getting together to help out a local organization that does so much for the community, it’s a good thing. Next year, we’ll pick another topic, and we’ll just keep going from there.”

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