Ponoka town and county planners

Preparing for emergencies

Ponoka County hosted an emergency preparedness training event last week for about 40 participants from different organizations.

Emergency preparedness took centre stage last week during a table top exercise aimed at educating Ponoka first responders and agencies needed to take action.

The training event was hosted by Ponoka County and brought about 40 people from different organizations to manage a mock state of emergency. The table top is intended to get first responders and aid agencies thinking about the steps that will need to be taken to deal with an emergency situation.

“This is the perfect environment for making mistakes,” explained consultant and facilitator Ken Kendall at the onset of the exercise.

The scene unfolds with a transport truck with dangerous goods colliding with a Chinese tour bus near a school. While it may seem like an extreme situation, Kendall pointed out that stranger things have happened. As the scene unfolded Kendall slowly escalated the scenario to get attendees to think about how to deal with adrenaline and how to respond.

In another room first responders including RCMP, firefighters, peace officers and AHS discussed how to handle the scene with consultant Bruce Mackenzie guiding them through the steps.

Alberta is no stranger to states of emergency. From the 2013 floods to last year’s wildfire in Fort McMurray, these events highlight the need to be ready, explained Kendall.

Mackenzie said the purpose of the exercise is not to test participants but to test the emergency planning system. “If you want somebody to learn it has to be a positive learning environment for them.”

An emergency situation like this also highlighted the support needed from different agencies. This type of mutual aid is something fire departments have had to do for many years, explained Kendall. “Municipalities are just now coming around to that type of thinking.”

One of the challenges municipalities face is a growing list of budgetary needs and priorities, said Kendall, and budgeting for emergency planning is not always on the forefront. However, from a cost standpoint, emergency planning is not necessarily a big budget item.

Part of the table top exercise included use of the town and county’s regional emergency plan, which was paid for by the province. “What’s nice there is the province creates the opportunity.”

“Where it’s incumbent on the municipalities is to maintain the system after it’s been created,” said Kendall, adding that maintenance is not cost prohibitive.

While it may seem far fetched that a state of emergency could occur right in the Ponoka area, it was just last summer that the town saw a tornado touch down during the busiest time of the year, Ponoka Stampede. Emergency preparedness is vital to ensuring a smooth transition.

For Mackenzie, emergency preparedness can start at home with what he called 72-hour personal preparedness. He suggests having a plan for food, clothes, pets and even personal drug prescriptions is all part of that process.

The agencies that attended included town and county of Ponoka administration and councillors, members of the Ponoka County East and West District Fire Departments, FCSS for Ponoka and Rimbey, RCMP, members of the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit, Ponoka Victim Services, Alberta Emergency Management Agency, AHS and Red Cross.

Ponoka FCSS is hosting an Incident Command System 100 course free coming up May 25. The course is an introduction to managing emergency incidents. To register call Ponoka FCSS at 403-783-4462. The agency is also handing out emergency preparedness bags next week during Emergency Preparedness Week May 7 to 13.

Just Posted

Magician Steve Harmer levitates table Nov. 22

Clearview schools students watch illusionist float end table around gym

Don’t miss ‘Dark Winter Polar Nights’ at Stettler Public Library

International Holiday Potluck coming on Dec. 6

County balks at credit cards for tax payments

Ambulance mix-ups discussed by county council Nov. 8

Big Hank’s Tribute to Blues Christmas songs in support of Stettler Food Bank

Win 2 tickets to this rousing All-star line-up of 20’s 30’s 40’s 50’s and 60’s tunes

Stettler County campground broken into Nov. 13

Stettler RCMP looking for two suspects in B&E investigation

Magician Steve Harmer levitates table Nov. 22

Clearview schools students watch illusionist float end table around gym

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

Canadian screen stars want ‘action’ from industry meeting on sexual misconduct

‘Of course there’s been sexual harassment here. Absolutely. No question.’

VIDEO: ‘She is a tough cookie,’ says husband of found B.C. dog walker

Annette Poitras found alive in the woods on Wednesday morning

Opioid prescriptions up across Canada: report

The report shows the number of opioid prescriptions rose by almost seven per cent, while daily doses on average dropped

Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci warns that Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Health Canada hints at government’s plans for legal pot

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regulations

Washington governor tells BC don’t be ‘daunted’ by Trump

“I want to assure this assembly that no matter who is in the White House, it won’t affect Washington state’s relationship with Canada or British Columbia.”

Feds plan to spend billions on housing strategy

However much of the $15.9 billion will not be spent until after the next election in 2019

Most Read