Emergency Management… Living Document

Pipestone Flyer

When does an emergency become a disaster?

    What was intended to be an overview of the Wetaskiwin Emergency Management system for the Victim Services staff and advocates, the presentation by Fire Chief, Merlin Klassen turned into a lengthy and very informative and entertaining presentation. 

    “Our Emergency Management system is already established and like most plans it is a living document and is constantly being modified and updated based on the needs of the community and the availability of staff and volunteers.” He noted that some of the Victim Services staff had attended the presentation by Slave Lake Fire Chief Jamie Coutts who shared his personal experience during the massive Slave Lake fire and the need to plan and be prepared for disasters. 

    Fire Chief Klassen described  how Emergency Management and  the City's Emergency Response Plan work in Wetaskiwin. “The ultimate purpose of emergency management is to save lives, preserve the environment and protect property and the economy.” Klassen stressed that when managing emergencies, the protection of life is of highest importance followed by any of the other three depending on the specific circumstances. 

    “Emergency management bases its plans on the worst case scenario. In other words when an emergency grows beyond the resources of a City department to mitigate effectively, the  Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)  may be activated. This brings senior decision makers into one location which allows for the development of action plans and to allocate resources that will support the incident site while still maintaining service levels to City residents. The EOC staff also start to develop plans for the recovery efforts to assist residents and business owners.

    Emergency Management and the operations of the EOC follow the Incident Command System which has five major areas; Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance. This system can be expanded or reduced dependant on the needs of the emergency but maintains an effective span of control to maintain responder safety and effectively manage and mitigate the situation.”

How does Victim Services fit in ?

    In response to the needs of victims, the Wetaskiwin Municipal RCMP and Rural RCMP, in partnership with the Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services Society developed a Victim Services Unit. Victim Services provides support, information and appropriate referrals which aid in minimizing the crisis victims undergo when victims of a crime or tragedy.

    Fire Chief Klassen sees a role for Victim Services in Emergency Management in Wetaskiwin and region. “Having Victim Services staff understand how the Emergency Management system here at the City is activated, managed and what their roles and responsibilities are ensures that we have a high level of preparedness and enhances the services we can provide to the community during large scale emergencies and disasters. Victim Services will begin their participation by having one spot at the Emergency Management Agency meeting which meets at a minimum of 3 times a year. This is where we discuss risks to the community and develop plans in preparation for that type of event.”

Emergency management is comprised of four interdependent components.

Prevention & Mitigation- Eliminate or reduce the risks of disasters in order to protect lives, property, the environment, and reduce economic disruption. 

Preparedness – Be ready to respond to a disaster and manage its consequences through measures taken prior to an event, for example emergency response plans, mutual assistance agreements, resource inventories and training, equipment, and exercise programs.

Response – Act during or immediately before or after a disaster to manage its consequences through, for example, emergency public communication, search and rescue, emergency medical assistance and evacuation to minimize suffering and losses associated with disasters.

Recovery – Repair or restore conditions to an acceptable level through measures taken after a disaster, for example, return of evacuees, trauma counseling, reconstruction, economic impact studies and financial assistance.

    Chief Klassan sees Victim Services assisting with Mitigation and Preparedness and Recovery. “Victim Services could be part of the response phase assisting with the set-up of reception centres and dealing with residents there or at larger incidents they may be at the emergency site applying and using their skills for residents and responders.

    During the Recovery phase is when this groups specialized skills would be of great value as residents, business owners and responders work towards returning to a new state of normality.”

    Klassan summarized the role for Victim Services. “There is a strong relationship between long-term sustainable recovery and prevention and mitigation of future disasters. Recovery efforts should be conducted with a view towards disaster risk reduction.”It is comforting to know the City has a well-developed plan in the event there is a disaster. Just hope it is never needed. 

Just Posted

file photo
UPDATE: Leduc RCMP, Millet Fire Department and more on scene at serious multi-vehicle collision

Traffic is expected to be diverted for several hours and alternative travel routes are recommended.

File photo
Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are searching for suspect involved in an armed robbery at the Leduc Giant Tiger.

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read