Sharon Nowlan: Preparing for an outbreak in Nunavut

Sharon Nowlan is trained as both a firefighter and ambulance emergency responder, answering calls throughout Iqaluit.  

But with the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Canada, the PSAC-Nunavut Employees Union (PSAC-NEU) member understood that she and her colleagues had to prepare for the worst.  

Nunavut has the highest mortality rate in Canada from respiratory diseases, meaning the population is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.  

“Being ready is critical, as the virus could spread quickly if it does hit Nunavut,” says Sharon.  “Large numbers of people share homes in our community, and many have pre-existing respiratory problems.” 

Sharon and her team are working efficiently and diligently to make sure they are ready. 

They have been collaborating closely with the Iqaluit Hospital, training together, coordinating protocols and being fit-tested for their personal protective equipment as their station, ambulances and emergency equipment are being cleaned and sterilized with the utmost care. 

Sharon brings the same dedication and passion for her work in preparing for a possible COVID-19 outbreak as she does to her union, where she is actively involved in its Health and Safety Committee as well as its Women’s Committee. 

Things are quiet in Iqaluit now because most people are staying home, according to Sharon. As the weather warms up, however, calls to Emergency Services may increase as they usually do each spring. 

When asked if she feels ready, Sharon responds: “We’re as ready as we can be. I’m glad that we’ve had some time to prepare.” 



April 24, 2020