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“Be Prepared” is Prescott-Russell’s emergency motto
“By December 2004, everybody had to have all those things,” said Holmes, “and they had to conduct regular exercises and training (scenarios).” A training exercise did not require decla- ring a pretend state of emergency and sen- ding fire department, paramedics, police, and others to a location where they would pretend to deal with a crisis situation. There are “table-top” exercises available now for a variety of emergency situations for themembers of the EPC and ECG to sit down and run through during ameeting. Much of these table-top exercises consist of rapid-fire questions to eachmember present deman- ding their reactions to and responsibilities for an emergency scenario. “These (table-top) exercises are very effective,” said Holmes. He cited the 2006 gas explosion in the Vankleek Hill area as an example of the im- provement in emergency preparedness.The community’s handling of the crisis earned it a public commendation from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office. “We’re definitely better prepared to ma- nage and deal with it (emergencies),” said Holmes, adding that emergency manage- ment plans now undergo regular review and revision. “People know their roles and their res- ponsibilities. We’ve made the systemmore robust. People take it seriously now, at all levels of government.” DanHolmes, coordonnateur de la gestion des urgences communautaires, pense que les contés de Prescott et Russell sont mieux préparés à gérer et à faire face aux situations d’urgence. Les gens connaissent leurs rôles et leurs responsabilités. Les gens le prennent au sérieuxmaintenant, à tous les niveaux de gouvernement. —photo SNC Dan Holmes, community emergency management coordinator, thinks that Prescott-Russell is better prepared now to manage and deal with emergencies. People at all levels of government know their roles and their responsibilities. —photo SNC
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The well-known Scout motto has become the watchword now for emergency plan- ning for Prescott-Russell municipalities since the 1998 ice stormraged across Onta- rio and Québec. “The government woke up,” saidDanHol- mes, the community emergency manage- ment coordinator (CEMC) for the region. Holmes serves as the CEMC for both Cham- plain Township and Alfred-Plantagenet Township. He provides consultation services on emergency management planning to other municipalities within the Prescott- Russell region. He remarked on how the provincial go- vernment’s overall attitude towards emer- gency preparedness in Ontario, at all levels, changed in the aftermath of the Ice Stormof 1998. “Theymade emergencymanagement mandatory for everymunicipality,” he said. Holmes himself was living inHawkesbury during the 1998 ice storm. At that time, he worked for Air Canada in a different capa- city. For the past several years now, he has been CEMC for the two townships and a consultant to other municipalities. During this time, he has researched the differences in emergency preparedness prior to and since the ice storm. Before 1998, he noted, not all municipa- lities in Ontario had their own emergency and disaster strategy. Those that did had a general idea of how to react in an emer- gency.There was also no guarantee that any municipality with an emergency planmade a habit of doing practice drills tomake sure it was effective. That situation changed following the 1998 ice storm.The provincial government revam- ped its regulations dealing with emergency preparedness from top to bottom. It also demanded that all municipalities have their own emergency management strategy. Such strategy included written guidelines on dealing with an emergency, the set-up of an emergency program committee (EPC) and a control group (ECG), and designating a CEMC.
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