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Friday, February 12, 2010 Peace Arch News


news Long-range X-ray scanners among new tools

Transit cops ramp up patrols, technology Jeff Nagel Black Press

Extra nightly patrols by Transit Police are now being mounted to guard against trouble makers who might tamper with TransLink’s facilities or vehicles during the Olympic Games. Sgt. Tom Seaman won’t use the word “terrorists,” but it’s clear the measures are aimed at bigger threats than graffiti artists out to do some nocturnal tagging. “We’re concerned about any type of interference any group might entertain and we want to ensure we are out there protecting the system as best we can,” he said. He said the after-dark patrols will use heat-seeking devices to determine if people have walked through certain areas near stations, bus depots and other TransLink property. The force has also acquired two Contributed photo sniffer dogs – a black lab and a golden Sniffer dogs are training to work retriever – but they’re in training and with Transit Police. not likely to see action before the officers, and Seaman said the force Games are over. Other technology is at the ready to will use overtime to deploy roughly determine whether a suspicious bag double the number of officers it usually has on the system for much of left behind might be a bomb. Mobile X-ray units can be used by the Games. The aim is to have officers at all busy Transit Police officers to scan anything suspicious from a considerable stations at all operating times. So far, officers haven’t been notidistance. fied of any specific “The device is very powerful,” Seaman said. ❝We’re concerned about threats, Seaman said. Nor have they had “We can X-ray a bag any type of interference any reports of pickat one end of a station any group might pockets. from the other end – or entertain.❞ Most of the action even through a door.” Tom Seaman so far has involved They can also swab Transit Police giving directions to bags or other objects international visito detect explosive subtors, who Seaman said are mostly stances. Other measures are also in place, delighted with the transit system, such as relocating newspaper boxes particularly the Canada Line and further away from busy station the “very popular” SeaBus ride from Vancouver’s Waterfront Station to the entrances. There are now 170 Transit Police North Shore.

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Fraser Health balances budget Jeff Nagel Black Press

The Fraser Health Authority will end its financial year in April with a balanced budget, but it’s far from clear whether more cuts will be required in the months ahead. Victoria had previously indicated the authority would get a 5.8 per cent budget increase for 2010. But officials say that depends on how much money the provincial government earmarks for health care when it hands down its new budget after the Olympics are over. Fraser averted what threatened to be a $160-million deficit for 2009-10 by postponing surgeries, cutting grants and programs and restructuring its operations. A variety of psychiatric, detox and residential care beds were closed, and acute care beds occupied by elderly long-term care patients were redesignated so

lower paid nurses could be used. Delayed elective surgeries, some as a result of the Olympics, will likely result in longer wait times for some procedures, said Fraser Health CEO Dr. Nigel Murray. But many of the spending reductions and service changes should yield ongoing savings, he said, not just a one-year gain in cash flow. Steady population growth and demand for health services is putting continued pressure on Fraser, which struggles to keep pace with demand despite significant funding increases. Emergency room visits to area hospitals are running at a rate 11.8 per cent higher than a year ago. The number of admitted patients is up nearly nine per cent, births are up three per cent and neonatal intensive care units are dealing with 10 per cent more high-risk newborns. “There is unprecedented demand for services,” Murray

said. “We are growing at about double the provincial average, about two per cent per annum.” He said staff overtime has been cut 25 per cent, saving about $8 million, and administration costs have been reduced to less than 10 per cent of the total budget – in part by terminating several vice-presidents and other senior administrators. He said it’s too early in Fraser’s budget process to tell how much of an increase from Fraser’s current $2.48 billion budget is needed for 2010-11 to maintain service at the new levels. Despite the restraint, more hospital space is being built. A $35-million expansion at Chilliwack General Hospital is slated to open next winter. The new Surrey Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, a $239-million project to shift day surgery and clinics out of clogged Surrey Memorial Hospital, is now 55 per cent finished.

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Fri February 12 2010 PAN  

Complete February 12, 2010 issue of the Peace Arch News newspaper as it appeared in print. For more online, all the time, see www.peacearchn...

Fri February 12 2010 PAN  

Complete February 12, 2010 issue of the Peace Arch News newspaper as it appeared in print. For more online, all the time, see www.peacearchn...