Industry & Transportation
Medicine Hat, Alta., emergency teams hold mock disaster exercise
By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Fire trucks were on scene, roads blocked off and detours in place at S. Railway and Kingsway Avenue on Wednesday for a full-scale mock disaster exercise involving multiple agencies in Medicine Hat, Alta. The emergency training day was the culmination of eight months of planning.
Merrick Brown, the city’s director of emergency management, says, “It’s quite a big spectacle here. It’s better to do this as an exercise than if we were to do it in real life. That’s why we practise as partners because we don’t want to come into this situation where we don’t know what to do.”
There were many mini exercises going on throughout the city.
The mock incident itself occurred at the CP railyard involving a ‘collision’ between a semi-truck and a crude oil tanker. Briefings were taking place with a sweeping team to begin evacuations; actors were situated on the street so the team would have people to interact with. The remand centre was simulating an evacuation. The hospital received another exercise, being warned of increase of admittance due to respiratory issues from the smoke. Methanex was on site to support the fire department.
Evacuation would initially be to the Esplanade, which was set up as the Incident Command Post. All evacuees would arrive there to be registered so their needs could be determined, such as alternate housing.
Chad Eakins, deputy chief of Medicine Hat Fire and Emergency Services, was appointed the incident commander and outlined the type of incident being dealt with.
“At 8:30 a.m. this morning we received a call that a semi-truck had come down Hill Road and gone through the fence and hit a crude oil tanker in the CP railyard. We have a large level of smoke travelling through the city. We have identified an 800-metre wide radius we need to evacuate. Crude oil is on fire and four other tankers were attached to the car that was hit. CP is moving any adjacent railcars that could be a problem for us.”
Were it a real incident, the 800-metre radius would have affected parts of downtown, city hall, the remand centre and residential dwellings on the Southeast Hill. A notification emergency alert would have gone out to the public and a state of local emergency declared.
Residents would be asked to follow social media feeds, stay up to date on the incident and to remain clear of the 800-metre radius incident zone.
Samantha Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with Medicine Hat News.
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