Preparing for the worst
Firefighters removed an “injured” high school student from a school bus during the training exercise held by the M.D. of Big Lakes on March 29, 2007.
South Peace News
A power outage in Grouard Jan. 28 very nearly forced a state of local emergency.
The power went out at 7:30 p.m. when temperatures reached nearly –40 C. People began calling M.D. of Big Lakes fire chief John Gould to say their houses were getting cold. He contacted ATCO Electric to find out when the power would be restored and they estimated it would be on by midnight. This posed some problems for him.
“That meant that we had over 300 people without power for four or five hours,” says Gould. “If it had gone longer than that, we would’ve had to make sure that we could find accommodations for all those residents.”
He would have contacted M.D. deputy CAO Jeff Renaud, then recommended elected officials declare a state of local emergency.
However, the power was restored at 11:45 p.m., so no evacuation was necessary.
It is these kinds of issues elected officials and municipal employees have to prepare for and deal with as part of any emergency management plan.
Brice Daly, emergency management officer for the Alberta Emergency Management Agency in Grande Prairie, held a Municipal Elected Officials Course at the Pomeroy Inn Jan. 28 and a Basic Emergency Management course for municipal employees the next day. These courses are for those new to their positions, and those who need refreshers.
In the Municipal Elected Officials Course, Daly explained that the emergency management plan details things like notification procedures, the emergency operations centre location(s), checklists and resource lists, and state of local emergency procedures. Daly says the town office can act as an emergency operations centre, but it is good to have a backup location in the event of a fire.
Elected officials have responsibilities before disaster occurs, such as ensuring the emergency management plan is up to date. Risk assessments are conducted regularly.
They should also promote training and hold exercises. Daly suggests holding exercises annually, or at least every two to four years.
A state of local emergency can be initiated for all or any part of the municipality. However, only elected officials can authorize it, not the appointed director of emergency management.
The municipality has to notify citizens and the provincial government about the state of local emergency. The municipality also has the power to evacuate people, impose price fixing to prevent gouging and control or prohibit travel.
Daly also discussed the responsibilities elected officials have during and after a disaster, what powers the federal and provincial governments have and the assistance they can provide.
David Vanderwell is a volunteer firefighter for the Town of High Prairie Fire Department, and a member of town council’s protective services committee. He says Daly’s course was good exposure.
“It was a good overview of the situations that we may encounter as elected officials, and for us to prepare ourselves for what is required, should something like that happen to our community,” says Vanderwell.
The municipal emergency management plan will be reviewed later this year. Town CAO Larry Baran says an item such as the telephone callout list in the plan has to be updated because people move or are no longer involved with emergency planning.
The plan’s resource list will be updated. For instance, the municipality now has a second ice surface to use as a resource. The fire hall will be expanded to accommodate the new water tanker truck that arrives next spring and to provide more office space and room for training.
The new hospital will also be factored into the emergency management plan.
“We have to work with the schools, Northern Lakes College and Peace Country Health to make sure that all of our plans coincide,” says Baran.
At the M.D. of Big Lakes level, Renaud says Daly provided a good overview of emergency management issues.
“It was a good starting point for future training that we’re going to have down the road,” says Renaud.
He also says the M.D. conducts training exercises at least once every four years.
Approximately 170 people participated in a training exercise on March 29, 2007. A scenario was played out for a school bus crash in Grouard. Those involved included high school students, volunteers from local businesses, STARS air ambulance and fire departments.
Fast start propels Raiders to win over crosstown rival Saints
Prairie River’s Amadeus Giroux, in front, dribbles past St. Andrew’s Saint Justin Monahan.
South Peace News
The Prairie River Raiders jumped out to a quick lead and never trailed in winning their season opener 51-39 over their crosstown rivals, the St. Andrew’s Saints.
The game marked the first boy’s action in Smoky River Junior High School Basketball League action this season.
PRJH led 19-8 after the first quarter. They used their speed and a lack of effort defensively at the St. Andrew’s end of the court in bolting out to a big lead.
However, as the game wore on the Saints started to adjust. The bottom line was, for the last three quarters the teams were only one point apart.
maw led all scorers with 19 points while Amadaus Giroux chipped in with 16 points of his own. Offensively, they did most of the damage.
Jarett Abram and Zach Auger each had six points while Harold Johnson and Colin Bjornson netted two points each.
Jared Dumont scored a team high 15 points for the Saints. The rest of the scoring was spread out between four players. Zak Stokes had nine points, Justin Monahan eight, Mike Ochran four and Josh Perry three points.
Both teams head into the Christmas break and will not resume action until Jan. 9.
The Raiders travel to McLennan to play the Eagles while the Saints play their home opener against Valleyview St. Stephen’s School.
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