On Wednesday, October 17, the District of Saanich conducted an emergency management exercise to enhance staff training and emergency plans. This complex training exercise is possible thanks to $25,000 from the UBCM Community Emergency Preparedness Fund.
“The exercise is a significant investment in Saanich’s emergency management and training program” said Deputy Fire Chief Frank MacDonald. “This is an excellent opportunity for staff to practice their roles in assessing and responding to a simulated incident and for us to learn how we can improve our current emergency plans.”
The exercise was coordinated over several months through a working group of staff led by the Saanich Emergency Program. The Saanich Emergency Program supports municipal efforts to prepare for, respond to and recover from major emergencies and disasters.
The exercise began with an ammonia incident at 8:30 a.m. at G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre followed by the establishment of a fully-staffed emergency operations centre and departmental operations centre at the Saanich Fire Department.
The Saanich Command Vehicle was deployed to Pearkes to serve as the site incident command post. Saanich then activated the emergency notification page on its website as a test. A Volunteers established a Reception Centre which would support evacuees, at a church that has recently signed an agreement with Saanich to be used in an emergency.
The day-long exercise involved Saanich staff all nine departments and many divisions. Staff from external agencies such as Emergency Management BC, WorkSafe BC, CRD Hazmat, University of Victoria, BC Transit and contractors also participated in the exercise.
The execution of the ammonia exercise will inform the development of an exercise program for 2019 to 2021.