May 9, 2014 6:40 pm

Emergency Preparedness Week: Are you prepared?

It’s the kind of plan nobody ever wants to put to use, but it seems over the past few years our region has seen more than its fair share of emergencies.

These situations continue to force officials to prepare for the unknown.

“It’s just an ongoing lesson and learning,” said Lethbridge County Reeve Lorne Hickey.

But lately, those unknowns have come a harsh reality in southern Alberta.

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“No one likes to actually have incidents to get your experience but when we do have an incident we want to learn by it,” explained deputy chief Jesse Kurtz. “It’s important we learn by it.”

Officials are tasked with planning for any and every hypothetical emergency, most of which involve putting tens of thousands of people’s safety and well-being at the forefront.

“We actually go through the process of having exercises where we’re acting like it’s the real thing and that’s the best way for us to learn is through exercising,” said Kurtz. “We constantly tweak and improve the plan.”

County and city officials cautiously agree we’ve had our fair share of emergencies over the past few years, and unfortunately, it’s overcoming those crises that make the preparedness plans even better.

“You can’t always predict what’s going to happen, we know that. You come back to the table and you sit down and you go through what happened, what could’ve been done differently and what lessons you learnt,” added Hickey.

Emergency plans slowly evolve with the community’s response. But while officials stress they try to cover all aspects, there’s always uncertainties and some things you just can’t map out.

“If someone can tell me where the fire’s going to be, what the wind is going to do, what the weather is, time of year, what time of day, what time of week? I can tell you what we’re going to do to get them out,” said Kurtz.

“One of the keys here is that the public is prepared to recognize that we’re saying there’s an emergency.”

Both city and county officials say it’s equally as important for residents to prepare for an emergency and that includes staying updated on the current situation and having a 72 hour kit ready for use.



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