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.”

Celebration of Life

Last week I had the honour of attending Halton Region’s Celebration of Life awards ceremony.

The Celebration of Life is an event to profile the important life-saving work by Halton’s Paramedic Services, bystanders, and community partners. The event also gave survivorsHalton Paramedic Celebration of Life of medical emergencies a chance to formally meet and thank the paramedics who saved them.

The Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board were presented with community partner awards for their commitment to the health and safety of their students and staff when they installed defibrillators in all their schools. Along with the installation, they trained hundreds of staff and students how to use the defibrillators and how to do CPR.

Bystanders were also honoured for their bravery. Thrust into a crisis situation they acted with selflessness and courage and were commended for their actions.

DSC_4361In Halton Region, we have an exceptional team of paramedics who make a career out of caring for the health and safety of our community.

Halton Regional Council is committed to providing the necessary tools for not only a paramedic service that succeeds, but one that excels.

In the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan, there are a number of high profile actions dedicated to paramedic services such as ensuring appropriate response times, opening a northwest Oakville station and continuing to work with the Central Ambulance Communications Centre to optimize the delivery of paramedical services.

Optimization of the delivery of paramedical services is key because as our population grows, so too does the demand for paramedic service.

For Regional Council, that means striking the right balance between meeting community safety needs and managing tax dollars effectively, something we have been able to do with expanding services while not increasing property taxes on Regional programs and services for the past seven years, one of the best records in Canada.

This is evident in the fact that last year Halton Region’s Paramedic Services responded to over 50,000 calls while still meeting our response time targets.

Halton’s paramedics, community partners and bystanders are part of what make Halton Region a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

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 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.

eCNS

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.”

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.

Kapow__83

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.

Kapow__109

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.”

Emergency Preparedness Week is May 5-11: Is your family prepared for emergencies?

Emergency Preparedness Week is a national awareness initiative that takes place annually during the first full week of May.  Emergency Preparedness Week encourages Canadians to take three simple steps to become better prepared to cope with a range of emergencies.

Be prepared – take the steps!EP week

  1. Know the risks – Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to our region can help you be prepared.  Here in Halton, flooding, severe weather, technological or environmental accidents and power failures are all potential threats.
  2. Make a plan – Every household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do if disaster strikes. Remember to practice what to do in different emergency situations.
  3. Get an emergency kit – During an emergency, be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.  Check our Emergency Preparedness Guide for tips on how to make a kit. Make sure you plan for family members who may have special needs and don’t forget about your pets!

Preparing for an emergency is important and something the whole family can do. By taking the three steps, you can become better prepared to respond to a range of emergencies and help make Halton a more disaster resilient community.

You can participate in Emergency Preparedness Week 2013 by:

  • visiting halton.ca/beprepared or one of the displays that will be in the community that week
  • volunteering to help your neighbours, your parents or co-workers get prepared
  • purchasing or assembling an emergency kit
  • considering a volunteer opportunity at a local emergency response organization
  • following  Emergency Preparedness on Twitter for updates, and during EP week, special emergency preparedness hints and contests
  • taking Halton’s EP quiz online for a chance to win an Emergency Kit.

Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Working together, we can ensure that Halton Region is not only one of best and safest communities in the country, but also the most prepared!

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.”