Emergency Centre grand opening May 10

Okotoks: Emergency preperation activities planned

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 02:58 pm

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Emergencies often happen suddenly and with little warning, as the foothills community discovered in last summer during the flood.

With this in mind, Emergency Preparedness Week is once again being marked in Okotoks from May 4 to 10.

The theme of Emergency Preparedness week this year in Alberta is “Who depends on you in 72?” The focus will be on having a 72-hour kit prepared in case of an emergency.

“I think Emergency Preparedness week is really important because it brings awareness,” said Town communication specialist Melanie Heemeryck. “With the June flooding last year that was unprecedented it’s very important to be prepared and know the 72-hour rule.”

To kick things off, on May 3 search and rescue teams will be holding a mock disaster as part of their regular training.

Heemeryck said they will be doing an urban search in the town with “strategically placed actors playing lost victims.”

The Town will be closing out the week with the Southridge Emergency Services building’s grand opening ceremony on May 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a formal ribbon cutting, and the RCMP marching troop will march from the old former building to the new location on Woodhaven Drive. The event will host a variety of activities to help residents prepare for a range of possible emergencies. Child Find will be on hand fingerprinting and taking photographs of children and visitors will even get to see a SWAT team demonstration propel down the side of the building.

Deputy Fire Chief Pat MacIsaac said people need to prepare for 72 hours in case of an emergency before first responders can reach them.

“In those instances where you could be without utilities, 72 hours is the bare minimum. If you can look after yourself for a week then that’s even better,” he said.

Fire Services will have a booth set up at the grand opening with examples of what a 72-hour kit should look like.

“It needs to be personalized to your family,” MacIsaac said. In addition to including food, water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio in the kit, he also suggests stocking up on any necessary prescriptions you made need.

“You could be without power, without heat, without the ability to cook food. Be prepared to look after yourself and your family,” he warned.

Although first responders were able to reach most people in less than 72 hours during the emergency last summer, MacIsaac said it helps reduce the urgency of first responders in those situations.

“The responders with the floods last year, they are helping those in need but the individual needs to be prepared themselves. If they can take pressure off the responders and be prepared then the outcome is better for everyone,” he said.

Okotoks Fire Chief Ken Thevenot said residents need to be prepared for emergencies other than floods too.

“Understand the risks in the area – particularly floods, tornadoes, snow storms, power outages, those are the risks we need to worry about,” he said. “Make a plan – who picks up the kids from school, who looks after your pets?” Thevenot said even if you do have an emergency kit prepared, the event serves as reminder that they need to be replenished.

“It’s a good reminder of what to do with kits, they need updating and you have to make sure the supplies are still good,” he said.

Thevenot said they’ve been working on their own emergency preparedness.

“We’ve been doing lots of work overall in the last months upgrading the flood action plan, as well as municipal emergency plan,” he said.

“It’s a great week for us to update our own staff too.”


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