File Photo.

Eckville agency practices emergency preparedness

The Eckville Emergency Management Agency met Feb. 3 for the yearly tabletop exercise

The Eckville Emergency Management Agency is working to keep the Town and its residents safe in the case of emergency.

The agency is composed of a director of emergency management (DEM), three deputy DEMs, members of council, Town staff and volunteers, as well as field officers from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) and a regional coordinator.

“There’s an extensive background in emergency management, for not just myself, but for others as well,” said Stephanie Hawkins, DEM for the Town of Eckville, in a phone interview.

Hawkins works a full-time job in emergency management in industry, is finishing up a master’s degree in emergency management, and has experience as an industrial firefighter and an Innisfail firefighter.

She explained a lot of the members also have the same kind of background or training, which is what drew them to the agency.

“Not only just the staff and council, but a lot of the volunteers, whether they were previous firefighters, retired firefighters, police service, FCSS, social services is a huge part of emergency management,” explained Hawkins.

Emergency management is a “constant organization of resources and responsibilities for dealing with humanitarian aspects of emergencies.”

This, according to Hawkins, includes four stages: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

The preparedness stage was practiced on Feb. 3 when the agency met for the yearly tabletop exercise.

A tabletop exercise is a low cost method used for evaluating emergency plans, response and roles in a stress free environment, said Hawkins.

At the exercise on Feb. 3 the agency sat around a table and talked through a HAZMAT scenario.

Each year there is a risk assessment done where the agency looks at what the greatest risks are. For Eckville, a HAZMAT incident was on the list due to the number of tractor trailers to go through town.

The exercise portrayed a scenario where a tractor trailer carrying liquid acetone crashed and was leaking the fluid from the back. The participants then worked together to work through the stages of the incident from who needs to be notified to activating the Emergency Operation Centre and then recovery.

Next in the evaluation phase it will be determined what was lacking in the exercise and which areas need improvement and are added to the emergency plan.

Hawkins says the emergency plan will be updated at the quarterly meeting in April.

In addition to the tabletop exercise there is also a functional exercise done every four years and AEMA hosts a full scale exercise fairly regularly.

A functional exercise sees areas such as operations and logistics put boots on the ground in the Emergency Operation Centre, but firetrucks, for example, would not be out in the field.

On the other hand, a full scale exercise would have the centre going through the motions as well as response staff out in the field as if they were on the scene of a real incident.

Hawkins says the Lacombe Region is looking to do a full scale exercise in the future, although nothing has been set as of now.

Training for the agency members is provided by AEMA at no cost to the Town, but it can be time consuming as the courses range from half-day to three days long.

Local Authority Legislation has made the training more standardized based on position starting at the DEMs and deputies then flowing down.

“What we do foresee challenges with is it’s a largely volunteer group,” said Hawkins of getting the members trained, adding the Town staff and councillors are easier as they can be trained on Town time.

“There’s definitely challenges there because people have jobs and people work and these courses are usually held Monday to Friday.”

The training the members receive is part of a command and control structure used by all municipalities and provinces across the country so additional support can be brought in if necessary.

At the quarterly meetings Hawkins says they assure the agency is meeting all Local Authority Legislation guidelines as well as the local Town of Eckville emergency management bylaw.

Emergency Preparedness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Sylvan Lake RCMP on scene at serious, multi vehicle collision

There is no access westbound on Aspelund Road from the intersection.

Sylvan Lakers take a frozen dip for a cause

The annual Polar Bear Dip held during Winterfest is a fundraiser for organizations around town

Sylvan Lake Wranglers advance to face rival Red Deer

The Sylvan Lake Wranglers defeated the Rocky Rams in first round playoff action three games to one

PHOTOS: Ice racing speeds through Sylvan Lake

The Alberta Oval Ice Racing Championship Series hosted its Nationals event on Sylvan Lake on Feb. 16

Cases of clubroot cropping up in Central Alberta canola fields

Canola Council of Canada says more than 300 fields in Central Alberta have clubroot spores

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Portrait of the Coastal GasLink, a pipeline to divide a nation

In mid-February, 46 per cent of the pipeline route had been cleared

Alberta ends master agreement with doctors, new rules to be in place April 1

The current master agreement with physicians ends March 31

Alberta rail conductor fired for social media posts awarded money, but not reinstatement

Arbitrator Richard Hornung says that he agreed with the Teamsters union

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Burger King breaks the mould with new advertising campaign

The company is known for irreverent ad campaigns

PHOTOS: RCMP call on kids to name latest police puppy recruits

This year’s theme is the letter ‘N,’ and 13 German shephards must be named

Most Read