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.”

Be prepared for winter weather

On November 1, Halton Region rolled out an enhanced emergency notification service which gives us access to an improved database. We can now reach more than 95 per cent of Halton residents with traditional land line telephone service in emergency situations.  As one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to Bell Canada’s 9-1-1 data for use in emergency situations, Halton Region continues to be a leader in delivering community emergency notification services. 

We all need to be prepared, because emergencies can happen any time and any place. In Halton, our emergency response partners work together to plan for and manage emergencies.  Our goal is to ensure that residents are safe and that Halton is a disaster resilient community, ready to deal with any potential, imminent or actual emergency. 

While governments and partners at all levels work hard to keep residents safe, individuals also have an important role to play. Are you prepared?  Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility.

As winter approaches, we face the possibility of:

I encourage you to take time to learn more about emergency preparedness. This winter, be prepared…take the steps!

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.”

Halton Region launches enhanced emergency notification service

The Community Emergency Notification Service (CENS) is one of many tools Haltonemerg pic Region and the Local Municipalities use to notify residents in emergency situations. To improve notification capabilities and reach as many residents as possible, beginning November 1, we will use Bell Canada’s Enhanced Community Notification Service, which will provide access to Bell’s 9-1-1 database. As one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to this data for use in emergency situations, Halton Region continues to be a leader in delivering community emergency notification services.

This new initiative will increase the reach of Halton Region’s CENS from 60 per cent of traditional land-line telephones within the Region to more than 95 per cent.  Access to this enhanced information will allow Halton Region to pinpoint locations and accurately notify households impacted by an emergency event such as a flood, chemical spill or other emergency situation.

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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Halton Region is prepared for emergencies: New initiative provides another way to inform residents

Halton Region works closely with our emergency partners to be ready to respond to emergency situations. We take our responsibility very seriously and are committed to ensuring that we are ready to respond to any emergency situation and are able to reach as many people as possible.

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Since 2008, we have used our Community Emergency Notification Service (CENS) to phone and deliver a message to affected households in the Region in the event of an emergency. We continue to improve CENS so that Halton Region remains a disaster resilient community.

On June 19, 2013, Halton Regional Council passed a motion to incorporate Bell Canada’s Enhanced Community Notification Service (eCNS) into the Region’s existing notification service. This new initiative will increase the reach of Halton Region’s CENS from 60 per cent of traditional land-line telephones within the Region to more than 95 per cent.

When the system is implemented in November 2013, the Region will be one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to Bell’s reverse 9-1-1 data and the first to use geospatial coordinates (latitude and longitude) for civic addresses in the 9-1-1 database for the purpose of emergency community notification. Access to this “geospatially enhanced” 9-1-1 information will allow Halton Region to accurately notify only those households impacted by an emergency event.

Bell’s eCNS will supply a greater range of telephone numbers and addresses, including unlisted and do not call numbers. However, wireless telephone numbers (cell phones), four party lines and nomadic Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services and devices for hearing-impaired users will not receive notification through eCNS. Residents who are using these other services in their homes will be notified through other communications from Halton Region.

The initiative is a joint effort between the Region, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, the Town of Oakville, Bell Canada and Telus Communications Company.

For more information about eCNS and 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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Reduce Your Outdoor Water Use

Summer is finally here and Halton is reminding residents to be mindful of their outdoor water use to ensure there is enough water for essential and emergency services like firefighting.

Water conservation is very important during summer months when water consumption can double due to the increase in outdoor water use from activities such as lawn watering and car washing.

outdoor water use

In order to ensure a continuous supply of water for essential and emergency services, residents are asked to conserve water by following Halton’s Outdoor Water Use program. The program consists of a three level, numeric, colour-coded system that considers factors, including water demand, water storage levels, groundwater levels and weather patterns:

LEVEL 1 (Blue) – Careful Use

  • Voluntary odd/even lawn watering between 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. & 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.:
    • Properties with odd address numbers water on odd numbered calendar days
    • Properties with even address numbers water on even numbered calendar days
  • Car washing and watering of trees, shrubs and gardens is allowed.
  • Although level one is voluntary, resident cooperation to reduce regular outdoor water use is important.

LEVEL 2 (Yellow) – Limited Use

  • Mandatory odd/even lawn watering between 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. & 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.:
    • Properties with odd address numbers water on odd numbered calendar days
    • Properties with even address numbers water on even numbered calendar days
  • Use a hand-held device such as a watering can.to water trees, shrubs and gardens.

LEVEL 3 (Red) – Stop Use

  • No outdoor lawn watering or car washing is permitted in order to conserve water for emergency and essential services.
  • Watering of trees, shrubs and gardens can be done using a hand-held device following the odd/even watering rule.

For tips on how to reduce your outdoor water use and to sign up to receive an email alert when water restrictions are in effect visit www.halton.ca/waterconservation.

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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Celebrating Clean Air Day with Ka-Pow to Powerjams

Protecting public health, emergency preparedness, environmental health and air quality are all Citizens’ Priorities in Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan.

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On June 5, Halton Region celebrated Canadian Environment Week (June 2 – June 8, 2013) and Clean Air Day (June 5) at Milton Public Library with the first public reading of Ka-Pow to Powerjams, a picture book for children aged four to eight.

The launch at Milton Public Library was attended by more than 50 young students and featured a book reading, a visit from some special guests from the Mountsberg Raptor Centre, a presentation on asthma triggers and an emergency preparedness display.

Ka-Pow to Powerjams is the third and final book in a three-book series about the implications of air quality and climate change on human health. It builds on the themes presented in A Farewell to Featherwagons and Wings and Thingamajigs, completing the Owls for Climate Change series by exploring emergency preparedness themes and the linkages between climate change, severe weather and energy conservation.

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Over the next few months, copies of the book will be provided to public libraries in Halton as well as child care centres, schools, community networks and partners. A complementary Storytelling Kit is available online.

As this story illustrates, simple actions can have an impact in making our community healthy, energy smart and disaster resilient. This week, why not walk or bike to your local library and borrow a copy of the book to share with your children or grandchildren. Related to emergency preparedness, consider assembling or purchasing a 72 hour Go-Kit to use during an evacuation of your home or community.

Visit www.halton.ca/owlbooks to read all three books online.  Books one and two are available in English, French, Cantonese, Polish, Punjabi and Spanish; translations of book three will be available online this summer.

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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Slow down and move over for emergency responders

Every day, our paramedics are on the road responding to calls. They respond to over 50,000 calls each year and they do an outstanding job with their dedication and hard work.

During Paramedic Week (May 19-25) and beyond, don’t forget to slow down, signal, move to the right and pull over when you see the flashing lights of an ambulance or any other emergency vehicle. Moving over and slowing down is so simple and it can play such a big factor in someone’s life.

Paramedics are in important and valued part of our health care system and community. They are part of the reason why Halton Region is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

The following sections of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act apply to all emergency services.

1. When you see an emergency vehicle approaching with its lights on, slow down and move to the right as soon as it’s safe.

In an emergency situation, seconds could mean the difference between life and death so a clear, unblocked lane to the patient’s location is important.

2. When you approach an accident with emergency responders on scene, slow down and safely move away from the accident.

By moving away from an accident scene, we are ensuring paramedic and other emergency responders’ road-side safety and allowing them to focus on the medical needs of the patients.

Failure to comply with either of these laws could cost you significant fines and demerit points. Worse than that, failure to comply could have a negative effect on someone’s life.

The theme of this year’s Paramedic Week is “Health Care in Motion”. Let’s keep them safely in motion!

For more information about Halton Region Paramedic Services, dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/paramedic. If it’s an emergency, always dial 911.

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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”