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Town of Stettler on board with regional emergency management model

The Town of Stettler is transitioning away from individual emergency management and instead moving to a more regional model.

Council made the decision following a presentation by Stettler Regional Emergency Management Agency (SREMA) director Clinton Sime during their Aug. 16 meeting.

Up to this point all communities in the region, even SREMA members, were required to have their own emergency management bylaws and do their own preparedness meetings.

However, the regional partners involved in SREMA have been in contact with the minister and have been informed that if the entire region creates bylaws delegating authority to a regional advisory committee, he will sign a ministerial order granting the exception.

“We are one community,” said chief executive officer Greg Switenky, speaking in favour of the move.

According to Sime, the Town of Stettler is the second-last member of SREMA to sign off on the switch and change the bylaws to being regionally focused.

Another change brought forward by Sime is emergency preparation.

Sime, and his two deputy directors, have taken time over the last two years to go over the emergency reception equipment in storage at the County of Stettler, which is available to all the communities in the region, and the news is not good.

“We are dismally short,” said Sime.

“Everything we’ve found is extremely old.”

According to Sime, the cots that they found in storage are Korean War era army stretchers which are extremely narrow and many other supplies are outdated.

New supplies to outfit a 50-person reception centre is between $6,000 and $10,000 depending on vendor. For a region the size of Stettler, the reception centre would need to be capable to hold 200 which would quadruple the cost.

Given that most of the items in the kits have a shelf life, the costs would be ongoing every few years as items need to be replaced. Also, in the case of municipally driven reception centres, they need to be staffed, which also costs money.

An option suggested by Sime is exploring Memorandum’s of Understanding (MOU) with the Red Cross and/or local hotel chains.

According to Sime, there is no start up costs to signing the MOU. Costs would only be a factor if the MOU is triggered and people need to be relocated to hotels, and even then Sime says the municipalities can get some money back from the Federal government.

The bylaw switching Stettler to a regional emergency management model passed all three readings during the meeting, and council voted in favour of supporting the creation of MOUs with hotel chains instead of purchasing new equipment.

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