Simulated emergency planning exercise an excellent learning experience
JOINT MEDIA ADVISORY
March 31, 2009
SIMULATED EMERGENGY PLANNING EXERCISE AN EXCELLENT LEARNING EXPERIENCE
At 9 a.m. on March 26, Leduc County, the City of Leduc, the Town of Calmar and the Edmonton International Airport participated in a mock emergency situation - the destruction of a pump station, which led to a water shortage and possible water contamination throughout the entire southwest region. The simulation emergency exercise left all of the participants with many things to think about. "It was a great learning experience," says Bob Galloway, Leduc County Fire Chief. "We learned what we did well and also discovered areas in which we can improve on both as individual municipalities/agencies and as a regional group."
The objectives of this exercise included practicing communications between the participating organizations and agencies, practicing managing information within and between each Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), providing emergency preparedness awareness to the general public (in the Leduc County region), and validating the functionality and interoperability of all municipal and agency EOCs.
"This regional exercise was an exciting and challenging opportunity for the Town of Calmar to initiate its Emergency Operation Centre (EOC)," says Brent Bachman, Director of Community Services with the Town of Calmar. "We were able to work in conjunction with our neighbouring municipalities and the different levels of government where everyone who participated was there to practice communication skills and techniques between the different EOCs. The exercise was a great success and a learning opportunity for all who participated."
“It was a great learning experience,” says Gerry Kelly, Deputy Fire Chief of the City of Leduc. “We identified some opportunities and areas of improvement in our process and it was great to work together with other municipalities and agencies in the region.”
Although the airport is not a municipality, they are a key partner in the region. They too are potentially vulnerable and affected by emergency situations in the region, so their participation was vital to the success of this simulated emergency exercise.
"While Edmonton International Airport is always updating and fine-tuning its emergency response protocols in conjunction with our community partners, this particular scenario was the largest joint tabletop exercise we have ever participated in," says Burl Hamm, Manager, Emergency Response Services and Emergency Planning, EIA. "The safety and security of our passengers is Edmonton Airports' number one priority, so simulations like this one are vital to ensuring that we maintain our rigorous standards for emergency preparedness."
As part of the exercise, a simulation call centre was set up in Edmonton. The simulated calls had the participants dealing with many problems arising from the initial incident, including simulated calls from the media, the public and local stores and businesses. Each EOC received between 20 and 30 calls from the simulation centre. In addition to dealing with the phone calls, the EOCs all had to work together to resolve the mock emergency situation. "This exercise helped everyone realize how important it is to communicate with each other in a regional crisis," says Galloway.
This exercise was an excellent learning tool for the participants. Members of each EOC agreed that in the event of a real emergency, they now have the tools to be better prepared for it and over the next month will be working to make improvements to their respective emergency plans.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Vice President, Communications & Passenger Experience
Aéroport international d’Edmonton
Comté de Leduc
Director of Community Services Communications Coordinator
Town of Calmar
Phone: 780-985-3604 ext. 228
Ville de Leduc