“What if?” scenarios discussed for Meadow Lake

Concerned residents from Meadow Lake and the surrounding area take part in a Basic Emergency Management course Nov. 17 at the Meadow Lake fire hall.By Rhonda Cooper

A group of 23 concerned residents from Meadow Lake and area gathered November 17-18 to discuss potential reactions and plans to a number of “What if” scenarios posed in the Basic Emergency Management Course (BEM).

The one-and-one-half daycourse was sponsored by the City of Meadow Lake and initiated by city clerk and volunteer firefighter Cheryl Dodds.

“Emergency plans are being stressed all over the province,” said Dodds. “It is something every municipality needs to do and be on top of.”

Emergency Service Operators Ken Snell of Saskatoon and Duane Hiebert of Prince Albert guided the participants through a variety of scenarios.

“They are learning how to set up an emergency management plan in their community,” said Snell. “This is done through the use of group exercises. The goal is for each municipality to have the capability of handing a variety of emergency situations within their municipality.”

The BEM is the prerequisite for advanced courses such as Developing an Emergency Plan in 9 Steps (for elected officials) the Emergency Operation Centre and the Incident Command System.

Dodds targeted a variety of agencies when setting up the course.

“I spoke to a number of people to find out who was interested in getting involved,” she said. “We have people from North of Divide, as a number of those communities are starting from the ground with their plan, the ambulance, Red Cross and the Salvation Army here.”

Dodds believes a number of people have had their eyes opened with the severe flooding in the southern parts of the province, the large amounts of water in this area, and the fire in Slave Lake.

“Meadow Lake has been put on stand by in the dry years for forest fires,” she noted.

Session attendant Murray Rausch, North of Divide committee chair and reeve of the RM of Beaver River No. 622, was pleased with the information offered.

“From the perspective of council, it defined what our roles and responsibilities are,” he said. “It sent me home thinking how extensive our responsibility is, especially in the preparation stage.”

Rausch noted that while his RM has a plan from the past, the session illuminated the need to renew the plan especially those agreements for mutual aid with neighbouring communities. As for North of Divide, he noted the need for emergency planning was identified early in the organization’s establishment as a key priority.

“We need to help each other and I believe that by knowing what our neighbours have can help improve our efficiencies,” he said. “Duplication is not always efficient.”

Murray found the in-class theory combined with the real life provincial examples such as the recent wind storm that wreaked havoc in the RM of Meadow Lake along with historical video of other Saskatchewan events an effective way to illustrate the need for the development of plans.

He would welcome additional training and is hopeful more people will get involved and be prepared to take on a role within the plan in the event an emergency situation should hit the area.

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