At Halton Region, the safety of our community comes first. On a regular basis, we work closely with our staff and our community partners to continually improve how we can respond effectively in the event of an emergency. These partners include every department across the organization, each Local Municipality, Halton Regional Police Service, local fire departments and our Paramedic Services to ensure when the time comes, we have processes in place for an efficient, coordinated response.
Every year we also hold an emergency exercise where each member of Halton’s Regional Emergency Control Group (RECG) comes together to work through a mock scenario to test our response efforts and systems. This year, on November 27, the chosen scenario was a train derailment carrying hazardous goods impacting both the Town of Oakville and the City of Burlington. To ensure we stayed true to the possibilities such a disaster could bring, we invited representatives from CN Railway to join us, which helped us better understand how we would coordinate with them if there was an incident involving the railway.
It was a challenging scenario with multiple issues, not only for first responders having to manage a site with hazardous conditions, but also for public health, social services and other staff needing to protect the surrounding area and nearby residents. For example, RECG members had to work through:
- Communicating safety information to businesses and residents close to the impacted area.
- Coordinating a large-scale evacuation, including a long-term care home
- Logistical issues concerning road closures
- The possible impact to a water treatment plant and safety of its staff
- Preventing the run off of dangerous materials at the site from going into the wastewater and storm systems.
This exercise was also the first time the group used the Region’s Disaster LAN (DLAN) software in an exercise situation. DLAN is our emergency response software that electronically manages and tracks response activities and communications to enhance our capacity to address issues and ensure everyone is kept up-to-date as the situation changes. Throughout the morning, staff became very comfortable with the system.
As always, we gained valuable insights that will allow us to be even better prepared in the event of a real emergency and help us continue as a leader in emergency preparedness.
While Halton Region works hard together with our partners to be ready for an emergency, we hope that every Halton resident is prepared to protect themselves, their family and their property. It just takes three simple steps: Know the risks; make a plan and get a kit.
For more information about what you can do, to download or order Halton’s Personal Emergency Preparedness Guide or to learn more about Halton’s Emergency Management Program, visit Halton.ca/beprepared or dial 311. Residents can also follow @RegionofHalton on Twitter for incident 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.”