Exercise “Howling Wind” proved a successful test of Halton’s emergency response

In Halton, our emergency response partners, the Halton Regional Police Service, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton and the Town of Oakville, work together to plan for and manage emergencies.

On November 19, 2013, I joined Halton Regional staff and Town of Halton Hills staff and officials as well as emergency services staff in Exercise “Howling Wind,” conducted as part of Halton Region’s Emergency Management Program.EOC_2013-11-19_165_rev

As the name suggests, as a group we were responding to a simulated community emergency – a large, damaging hurricane that resulted in a power black-out and flooding across the Region.

In our Emergency Operations Centres we were briefed on the situation and asked to respond to the scenario as we would during a real event, using our Emergency Response Plan and resources that would normally be required in a real situation, including radio communication and the Community Emergency Notification System (CENS), which provides the Region and emergency partners with the ability to phone homes and businesses in an impacted area in the event of an emergency.EOC_2013-11-19_140_media

This exercise helped us fulfill legislated requirements by the Province, provided staff training and helped improve our emergency response capabilities.  We gained some valuable insights that will allow us to be even better prepared in the case of a real emergency and continue as a leader in emergency preparedness.

Earlier this month, Halton Region launched an improved CENS service using an enhanced database that includes contact information for more than 95 per cent of Halton residents and businesses with traditional land line telephone service.  Halton is one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to this enhanced data for use in its CENS, one of many tools Halton and our Emergency Response partners use to notify residents in situations such as emergencies and public safety incidents. If you would like to learn more about CENS visit halton.ca/cens.

While we are working hard to keep residents safe, individuals also have an important role to play. Are you prepared?  Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility. Be prepared…learn the steps outlined in our Personal Emergency Preparedness Guides and our videos: Emergency Preparedness: An introduction to Personal Preparedness from Halton Region and Emergency Preparedness.

For more information about Halton’s Emergency Management Program, dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/beprepared. You can also follow Emergency Preparedness on Twitter for emergency updates and preparedness tips. 

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me  on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”