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Emergency Planning & Preparedness: Top-of-Mind and Alive in the Municipal Setting

 

Municipalities are tasked with ensuring that disasters are managed in an effective and coordinated manner and that in the event of an incident, impacts to a community are minimized through a coordinated approach to emergency planning and by ensuring resources and supports are in place to mitigate the effects.

This sometimes becomes easier said than done due to ever increasing workloads and staff managing a myriad of accountabilities.  Priority is often given to tasks at hand, resulting in emergency management programs being shuffled to the bottom of the list, or pile on an overpopulated desk.

Although motivated by an incident in August of 2010, Airdrie has managed to keep its emergency management program alive and thriving.  Part of this momentum began with a thorough post event debrief which was attended by all Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) staff as well as external agencies supporting the EOC.  It was a great exercise to really evaluate our strengths, celebrate successes, but also take a closer look at areas requiring improvement or development.  Following the debrief, and to generate flywheel momentum, a comprehensive work plan was created to capture learning’s, assign priority as well create a task list to ensure completion.  The City’s Emergency Management Agency endorsed the work plan and staff committed to quarterly review until its completion.  Taking just over a year to complete the work plan, the City has now shifted its focus on further review of its Municipal Emergency Plan, supporting policies, and jurisdictional plans.  This process has included training and exercising new policies and procedures and building relationships within the team and with our external partners. Several jurisdictional areas have taken this opportunity to review and enhance their supporting plans, bringing these forward to the larger team to educate and initiate further conversation, ultimately building capacity within the group.

Although challenges will always remain in keeping Emergency Management Planning and Preparedness top of mind, Airdrie is hopeful that our program will continue to grow by ensuring staff are engaged and valued for their contributions to the whole.

Ms. Lorri Laface
Emergency Management Coordinator & Deputy Director of Emergency Management
City of Airdrie, Alberta
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