EYEWITNESS TO HISTORY
For Patricia Collins, the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is most fitting. Upon entering her room in K-wing at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre, you can’t help but notice a striking collage of black and white photos on the wall beside her bed. The faces are familiar; it’s like a page from another chapter in time: Shirley Temple; General Eisenhower and Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Each picture tells a unique and wonderful story, all of which begin when Ms. Collins (nee Holden), along with her mother and brother, moved from New Brighton, England, to stay with family friends in Montreal. A year and a half later, Ms. Collins joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, in April, 1942.
At the beginning of the Second World War, the Air Force experienced a shortage of personnel. Ms. Collins was one of 17,400 women to serve with the Women’s Division of the Air Force. “I put my age up a couple of years,” she admitted. “I was really just hoping to meet new people and go dancing.”
Initially, she was a clerk typist. However, a short time later, at just 17 and with virtually no photography experience, Ms. Collins was sent to the Rockcliffe Air Station, an Air Force training site in Ottawa, for a twelve-week course on photography. She passed the exam and a year later was posted to London as a senior photographer, where the assignments were mostly weddings, funerals and medal presentations. Sometimes, she and her Speed Graphic press camera were sent to photograph the destruction caused by the bombings in London.
“From wartime, the thing I remember most was the first coverage of Belsen. It was horrible when those photos surfaced from the German concentration camp. I don’t recall his name, but they were taken by a reporter from the London Free Press. We stayed late that night to develop the negatives.”
After the war, Ms. Collins was hired by news agency Reuters, where she covered leading women’s fashion houses. As a young professional she was profiled for a Pathe Pictorial short movie called, Women Going Places. This mini-documentary was shown in movie houses and featured Ms. Collins as the modern woman in her role as photographer on Fleet Street.
“I remember being sent to photograph Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace when she was leaving for her honeymoon. It was very magical.” During this time, Ms. Collins also captured leading American movie legends, such as Cary Grant, David Niven, and Rita Hayworth, while they were visiting Britain to help boost the economy after the war.
Ms. Collins’s life could be a movie in its own right. After the war, she became reacquainted with a fighter pilot named Art Collins, who was awarded the French Legion of Honour and Distinguished Flying Cross. He had tracked her down, and they married and raised five children together. As a mother, Ms. Collins shifted her photography talent to capturing the lives of their children and seven grandchildren. •
THE RESEARCH TEAM
ONE COOL MEDICAL CREW
A cardiac arrest happens every 12 minutes in Canada. It is often sudden, cutting off vital blood supply to the brain. At Sunnybrook, a research project called PACT (Post Arrest Care Team) is changing the way these patients are treated.
One treatment the team is using for some cardiac-arrest patients in a coma sounds rather unorthodox: inducing a state of hypothermia for 24 hours to help the patient recover more fully.
“This therapy is meant to cool the body temperature of the patient to about 34°C. Normally we’re at about 37°C,” says Sandra Abud, registered nurse and member of PACT. “When the patient is cooled, research indicates that it protects against cell injury and cell death, and that is beneficial for patient outcomes.”
Twenty staff members from the Schulich Heart Centre’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CICU) make up the team, including 19 RNs, five Critical Care physicians and two Emergency Department physicians. One RN, and one physician are available 24/7.
When an out-of-hospital arrest is en route to Sunnybrook, PACT is notified and goes to the Emergency Department (ED) to work with ED staff to ensure the hypothermia protocol is implemented.