Alberta municipalities prepare for live emergency management exercise
September 21, 2023
By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A Regional Emergency Management Exercise is scheduled to be hosted in several Alberta municipalities throughout the local region, come Sept. 28.
The Wheatland Regional Emergency Management Partnership consists of the City of Chestermere, Town of Strathmore, and Wheatland County, as well as the Villages of Standard, Hussar and Rockyford, all of which will be participating in the exercise.
“Basically, this exercise is going to test 35 agencies and 200 personnel against live exercises including hazardous materials, unnatural weather events, missing people, rescues, fires, and many medical emergencies,” said Sara Coutts, regional emergency management coordinator with the Town of Strathmore. “This exercise will push the first responders, municipal staff, policing agencies and guests to their limits in this one-day live event to practice our capacities.”
The Province of Alberta has mandated exercises like this are to be conducted once every four years. This will be the first time the regional partnership has practiced the event in its current iteration.
Prior to the exercise, the details regarding what would be taking place are considered confidential so as to not allow any participating individuals to be aware ahead of time.
Coutts only disclosed that hazardous materials and a weather event would be part of the exercise.
“We have done a number of in the classroom training sessions and courses to get our staff ready for this day, but the actual exercise event and the day in itself will be all live,” said Coutts. “It is not in a classroom; it is not really a tabletop where you talk about what is going to happen. Our staff and personnel and operations people are going to be boots on the ground actually doing the work and the jobs.”
What happens on the ground outside during the live event will be fed into the emergency coordination centre where municipal staff will work to support what is happening on the incident that they are working on.
Residents and locals should not expect to see any interruptions to their day-to-day lives during the exercise, however, emergency response personnel will be much more prevalent and visible throughout the community that day.
Over 60 high school students will also be participating in the live exercise to, according to a release, “give the exercise a real feeling.”
Participating municipalities will also have a live feed running during the exercise to keep the public informed.
John Watson is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Strathmore Times.
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