October 12, 2017 8:05 am
Updated: October 12, 2017 8:15 am

Emergency response training closes Westminster Ponds to the public

Upper Thames River Conservation Authority / thamesriver.on.ca/
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If you notice a lot of activity in and around Westminster Ponds today, don’t be alarmed.

The city is running annual emergency response training from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. Thursday.

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“We will have some sites around our community that will be engaged in an emergency type event. You’ll see first responders and other community partners engaged in responding to those events at those sites. In addition, our emergency operations centre … will be activated and will assist in the management of the incident,” said Dave O’Brien, director of the city of London’s corporate security and emergency management.

There are about 15 agencies taking part including police, fire and EMS as well as the Health Unit, London Hydro, and even the London Health Sciences Centre.

“Also we’re partnering, on this particular event, with Fanshawe College. They’re providing a significant amount of resources to helps us simulate the emergency sites,” O’Brien said.

The exercise areas will be closed to the public for the duration of the training. That includes the lands and trails in and around Westminster Pond, Tumblesons Pond and Spettigues Pond.

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From a distance, the public may see a large number of emergency response-type vehicles, support vehicles and people in the area.

“We regularly train in regard to our higher-risk areas, such as severe weather, both winter and summer, hazardous material-related events, both fixed site and mobile. We look at things like terrorist events. So any one of those particular things is something that we’re regularly reviewing and practicing, [so we can respond appropriately] to those types of emergencies,” said O’Brien.

Asked about the importance of the exercises, O’Brien said they are essential.

“You never know on any given day what you might be faced with and what large-scale emergency may occur within our community. It’s vitally important for us to practice, bringing our team together on a regular basis, so that we can work out any potential gaps that might exist, and work through the various events that may occur within our community before something real happens, so we’re as prepared as can be,” he said.

This work supports the city’s strategic plan, O’Brien added, enhancing corporate and community safety by preparing for and responding to security risks and emergency events.

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