The PEM team (left to right): Jason Emsley (Research Director), Brett Plouffe (PEM Physician) and Kelly Ann Trask (IWK Research Coordinator)




A team of emergency medicine researchers in the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) at IWK Health has received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to conduct its part of a large-scale, multi-centre, real-time surveillance project aimed at preventing vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Surveillance Program for Rapid IdentificatioN and Tracking of infectious diseases in KIDS (SPRINT – KIDS) is a multi-stream surveillance project conducted by the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada network (PERC). 

During the COVID pandemic, there was a lack of real-time infectious disease surveillance in children seeking hospital care. This void was particularly apparent in the fall and winter seasons when viral illnesses overwhelmed pediatric emergency departments across the country. 

SPRINT-KIDS aims to monitor vaccine-preventable illnesses, follow adverse events following immunization, track overall vaccine effectiveness, and monitor real-time incidence of influenza, COVID, RSV, and other diseases. The lead Canadian site for this project is the Alberta Children’s Hospital, under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Freedman. The PEM team comprises Jason Emsley (Research Director), Brett Plouffe (PEM Physician) and Kelly Ann Trask (IWK Research Coordinator).

Overall, the SPRINT-KIDS initiative aims to use this real-time data to improve the health care of pediatric patients across the country.


Jason Emsley is Research Director for the IWK Emergency Department and Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. He is a trauma team leader and Medical Director of Trauma at IWK Health. In addition, he is a staff emergency physician at the IWK and Halifax Infirmary and the Program Medical Director for Pediatric Ground Transport (Nova Scotia EHS). Jason graduated from Dalhousie University with an MD and completed his FRCPC emergency medicine training with a subspecialty fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine. Prior to this, he completed a BSc at the University of Alberta and an MSc and PhD in neuroscience at Dalhousie University. He is a former postdoctoral fellow and instructor at Harvard Medical School (Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Stem Cell Institute).

Jason’s biomedical research focuses on central nervous system (CNS) development and how our understanding of neural development can be applied to repairing the adult CNS in trauma and various neurodegenerative disorders. His clinical research focuses primarily on pediatric trauma epidemiology, pre-hospital mortality, and the effects of trauma team activations on departmental flow. He is currently the IWK site PI for the multinational PRoMPT BOLUS trial on resuscitation fluids in pediatric sepsis. Jason also serves as the PERC site PI for the Public Health Agency of Canada COVID surveillance program. Recent studies arising from this surveillance program have focused on long COVID in children, the changing symptomatology of COVID variants, and racial and socioeconomic factors influencing pediatric COVID care.

Brett Plouffe is a staff pediatric emergency physician and trauma team leader at the IWK, with a special interest in trauma and sports medicine. He provides valuable pediatric emergency medicine teaching to smaller centres in rural Nova Scotia, through both simulations and didactic teaching. Brett completed his MD at the University of Saskatchewan, followed by residency training in pediatrics and a subspecialty fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at Western University. He began his post-secondary education at Dalhousie University, completing a BSc (Honours) with a special focus on biomechanics and exercise medicine, so he has come full circle in returning to Dal as a faculty member.  

An early-career physician, Brett has a strong research interest in sport-related trauma. During his residency and fellowship training, he completed projects relating to vaccine side effects. With his recent move to the IWK, he has embraced the opportunity to take part in larger research projects under the tutelage of the PEM Research Director, Dr. Jason Emsley.

Kelly Trask took on the role of coordinating the pediatric emergency medicine research program at IWK Health in 2023. She also holds the position of Co-Director of the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) at IWK Health and is a member of the IWK Health Research Ethics Board. Kelly has over 20 years of experience in orthopedic surgery research at Nova Scotia Health and was president of the Canadian Orthopedic Clinical Coordinators Group from its inception in 2006 until 2023. In her free time, she coaches volleyball with the Bedford Blizzard Volleyball Club, Charles P. Allen High School Girls Varsity Team, and Team Nova Scotia.