Today’s Poll

Disaster Day Event — all about raising awareness

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
May 5th, 2016

The date was planned out months in advance.

However, the importance of Saturday’s “Disaster Day” exercise at the Hall Street Plaza in Nelson has been magnified after seeing how quickly disasters can strike as people watch in horror the wildfires ripping through Fort McMurray, AB.

Public safety remains the key priority as provincial fire crews continue their efforts to reduce the threat to property and infrastructure in Fort McMurray.

“The significance (of Disaster Day) begins with trying to build a resilient community which is all about emergency preparedness,” said Nelson Fire Chief Len MacCharles Wednesday from the Hall Street Plaza.

MacCharles was with Noreen Clayton, Emergency Program Coordinator for the Regional District of Central Kootenay; Nora Hannon, Deputy Fire Chief for Balfour/Harrop Fire Department and Andrew Bellerby, RDCK Regional Fire Chief going over a few last minute organization details before Saturday’s event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“That’s about personal family preparedness as we’ll as having the responders that would initially respond to a large scale event come together and share with the community what they bring to the table,” MacCharles adds.

MacCharles will be a great resource for Emergency Services staff in the region, having been on the front lines as Incident Commander during the 2011 Wildfire in Slave Lake, AB.

The wildfire destroyed roughly one-third of Slave Lake; 374 properties were destroyed and 52 damaged in the town, and another 59 were destroyed and 32 damaged in the surrounding Municipal District of Lesser Slave River No. 124, leaving 732 residents homeless.

Unfortunately, early numbers from Fort McMurray are blowing those stats out of the water.

“With this happening it’s about raising awareness . . . it could happen here as well,” MacCharles explains.

“What’s going on in Fort McMurray is similar to what occurred in Slave Lake in 2011 . . . it’s about things happen.”

“Certainly with the climate change and the extreme weather in this case . . . the drier season earlier than normal in that case there they’ve got lot of deciduous trees that haven’t got their leaves out yet a dry season this early is causing a lot of havoc,” he added.

Saturday, on the 500 Block of Hall Street, local agencies will come together as part of National Emergency Preparedness Week.

The event is meant to promote personal, family and community emergency preparedness as well as promote Fire Smart principles for our community.

MacCharles said everyone is invited to meet agency representatives, including fire trucks, an ambulance, hazmat and a sprinkler protection unit as well as enjoy the free hot dogs.

“Disaster Day will bring together local agencies to show how we all work together during a disaster,” MacCharles explains.

“It can help our community and residents be better prepared for a large emergency.”

MacCharles said everyone should take notice of their personal preparedness after watching the shocking video coming from Fort McMurray.

“It’s about us being prepared to do what we can to mitigate the potential and for community realizing there are things they can do both to mitigate these things as well as be prepared for example a rapid evacuation plan,“ he said.

“Are you prepared? MacCharles added.

“Do you have a 72-hour kit?

“Can you look after yourself?

“Do you have a place to go?”

If not, then attending Saturday’s Disaster Day event in Nelson would be a good start to getting the house in order.

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