Emergency services personnel from across Wheatland County came together on June 8 in Strathmore to practice the establishment of a command center in the case of a major local emergency. Officers from Strathmore, Wheatland County and the Villages of Hussar, Standard and Rockyford were present at the training session.John Watson

Original Published on Jun 16, 2022 at 14:57

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Emergency responders from within the Town of Strathmore and across Wheatland County gathered last week to review practices in case of a large-scale emergency within the region.

Manager of Emergency and Fire Services for Wheatland County, Michael Bourgon, said the practice is meant to determine the capacity of emergency crews within the local region to respond to potentially catastrophic emergencies. 

“Recently, all parties within the county signed the Wheatland Regional Emergency Management Plan (WREMP), which essentially builds our capacity and partnership for the region,” said Bourgon. “What we’re doing today is, we are pooling all of our responders together and preparing and ensuring that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities if something was to occur in the county or the Town of Strathmore tomorrow.”

Emergency responders from Wheatland County, Town of Strathmore and the Villages of Standard, Hussar, and Rockyford were present at the meeting on June 8.

During the session, the crews did not run a full-scale disaster scenario, instead focusing on just the physical opening of the Emergency Coordination Center (ECC).

Town of Strathmore fire chief and director of emergency management, David Sturgeon, said through the training the biggest take-away is to be familiar with the other responders throughout the region and to develop the community necessary for effective communication.

“What this is all about is developing those relationships, ensuring we can get people’s contact information and that we can coordinate in a timely manner to get staffing in to deal with emergencies,” explained Sturgeon. “I think what this does is (it) alleviates the frustration of not being able to get a hold of people and having additional capacity if called upon to get people (deployed) quicker, which in turn makes our service better.”

Bourgon added, part of the WREMP states that large-scale emergency training is required by legislation to be completed annually. 

More localized teams will also meet on a quarterly basis to train against smaller scale emergencies with command staff.

“Until recently, we would just do it on our own. The Town of Strathmore would have their plan, Wheatland County would have their plan, the villages would have their plans,” said Bourgon. “What we’ve done and developed with a lot of hard work with the Town of Strathmore, Wheatland County and the villages, is we’ve developed this regional plan which brings us all together and increases our capacity and increases our resources in the event of an emergency.”

This item reprinted with permission from Strathmore Times, Strathmore, Alberta