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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

Be prepared for winter driving

Winter weather can create difficult driving conditions.  Whether you are a new or experienced driver, it pays to be prepared.  Here are some tips on how to prepare for driving in winter weather:

  • Make sure your vehicle is winter ready
  • Keep your gas tank filled above halfway
  • Make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir and keep an extra jug in your vehicle
  • Keep a Car Survival Kit in your vehicle including:Booster cables
    • booster cables
    • vehicle fluids
    • emergency flares
    • a candle
    • blanket and first aid equipment
    • highway help sign

Try to avoid unnecessary travel during winter storms. If you must travel, be sure to allow extra time and let someone know your route and expected arrival time.  Monitor weather reports and check conditions before you leave. For provincial highway information, you can call the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Traveller Information Service at 511.

Before you hit the road, take the time to clear the snow and ice from your vehicle’s windows, lights, mirrors and roof.  Once you are on the road, watch out for the flashing lights of winter maintenance vehicles and when you approach them, slow down, stay back and be patient.  Remember to move over for emergency vehicles. You can find more safety tips in MTO’s Winter Driving booklet.

For updates and emergency preparedness information, follow Halton’s Twitter feed @BPreparedHalton. Visit www.halton.ca/beprepared or dial 311 to learn about the simple steps you can take to be prepared at home and on the road.  Take the Emergency preparedness quiz during February for a chance to win a Car Survival Kit!

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.”

Exercise “Lights Out” tested Halton’s emergency response

Halton Region works together year round with our emergency preparedness partners – the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, the Town of Oakville and the Halton Regional Police Service – to plan for and ensure a coordinated response to emergencies.

On October 4, I joined Halton Region and City of Burlington staff as well as Emergency Services participants in exercise “Lights Out,” conducted as part of Halton Region’s Emergency Management Program.

As the name suggests, participants in the exercise responded to a large, area-wide power blackout that lasted several days and resulted from an “ice storm” that occurred around Family Day 2013. “Lights Out” focused on the response and recovery aspects of the power blackout in which Burlington and the Region activated their Emergency Operations Centres.

In the 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. A debriefing session took place immediately following the exercise where our performance was evaluated.

Exercise “Lights Out” provided a terrific opportunity for us to test and practice during a realistic scenario that everyone should be prepared for.  Through this practice we learned valuable lessons that will allow us to be even better prepared in the case of a real emergency.

For more information on Halton’s Emergency Management Program and to download or order Halton’s Personal Emergency Preparedness Guide, visit www.halton.ca/beprepared or dial 311 or 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-442-5866 or TTY 905-827-9833. Follow @BPreparedHalton on Twitter for incident updates and preparedness tips.

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 at Halton Region

Community safety is a high priority for Regional Council.

Halton Region, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton and the Town of Oakville, work together year round with our emergency preparedness partners to plan for and ensure a coordinated response to emergencies. Our goal is to create and maintain an effective emergency preparedness program that provides for the safety and well-being of Halton residents. To this end, in September, Halton Region held two exercises with our partners to test and practice our response capabilities.

Mock Evacuation at Post Inn Village Long-Term Care Home

  • Photo of staff during the Mock Evacuation at Post Inn Village Long-Term Care Home.On September 8, Halton Region’s Services for Seniors Division, Halton Region Emergency Management and the Oakville Fire Department staged a mock evacuation at Post Inn Village Long-Term Care Homethat involved a mock fire drill and a building evacuation using volunteers.
  • The exercise at Post Inn Village, led by Halton Region’s Services for Seniors Division, was held to help ensure that Halton Region’s long-term care homes meet the standards for emergency preparedness required by the Long-Term Care Homes Act 2007. It also supported the efforts of Halton Region’s three long-term care homes – Allendale, Creek Way Village and Post Inn Village – to continue to meet Accreditation Canada standards.

“Exercise Twisted”

Reviewing map of affected area in the Regional Emergency Operations Centre during “Exercise Twisted,” designed to test the Halton Community Emergency Response Plan.
Reviewing map of affected area in the Regional Emergency Operations Centre during “Exercise Twisted,” designed to test the Halton Community Emergency Response Plan.From left to right:

  • Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr;
  • Kassondra Stockman, Halton Region Emergency Management Analyst
  • Greg Sage, Chief/Director of Emergency Medical Services, Halton Region
  • Shayne Mintz, Chief, Burlington Fire Department and Regional Fire Coordinator
  • Superintendent Joe Taylor, Halton Regional Police Service
  • On September 12, Regional Emergency Control Group members participated in “Exercise Twisted” in the Regional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). The EOC is a command centre used in emergency situations to provide strategic planning and support to officials at an emergency site. In this case, participants responded to a mock emergency, a tornado that “touched down” in Oakville. The exercise was designed to test the Halton Community Emergency Response Plan.
  • The lessons learned from the Post Inn Village mock evacuation were utilized in “Exercise Twisted” by the Regional Emergency Control Group. All teams performed well together and met the standards set.

The exercises were part of ongoing efforts to ensure that the Region is a disaster-resilient community, ready to deal with any potential, imminent or actual emergency.

Halton Region is prepared. Are you? Winter is on its way – so get prepared!  You and your family should have a Family Emergency Survival Kit to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours.  You can learn more about what to do during a winter storm and other emergency situations by visiting www.halton.ca/beprepared. You can also follow Emergency Management on Twitter @BPreparedHalton for incident updates and preparedness tips.

For more information about Halton’s Emergency Management Program or to download or order Halton’s Personal Emergency Preparedness Guide, visit www.halton.ca/beprepared, dial 311 or 905-825-6000, Toll free 1-866-442-5866 or TTY 905-827-9833.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”