Public Safety Canada, the federal agency responsible for emergency planning tells all Canadians that we should be prepared to take care of ourselves and our families for a minimum of 72 hours during a major emergency.
In the event of a major emergency, it may take emergency workers some time to get to you because they have to prioritize who needs the most help says Mayor Anthony Housefather.
Some emergencies might require people to stay in their homes, while others emergencies might require people to leave their homes quickly. It depends on the crisis. In order to determine how best to plan and respond to such disasters the City of Cote Saint-Luc invests much time and energy to be ready for most risks however remote they may be.
Cote Saint-Luc is known throughout the region as having a culture of safety and security, of being at the ready for disaster, large and small. We are one of the few municipalities that has had an extensive emergency preparedness plan, continuously updated and tested, since at least the 1960s. In addition, we are the only ones to have an active first responder corps of more than 80 volunteers as well as a volunteer Citizens on Patrol group who’s numbers will soon exceed 90 trained members.
Emergency readiness is part of our DNA. It is incorporated in all aspects of our civil service and this positions us very well to adapt to almost any situation to best serve our residents.
That’s why we assembled our core group of elected officials, directors, administrators and emergency experts to launch our 2014 priority in disaster readiness, earlier this week.
I remember all too well being actively involved in the city’s emergency operations in major flooding in the 80s, apartment fires in the 80s and 90s, the ice storm in 98, heat waves, underpass blockages, house fires and power outages. I have been active in the field, in the command centre and in preparing months and years in advance. This readiness and activation mechanism is part of who I am and, with the support of our mayor, I do my part to build this into every aspect of our city services.
Having worked on many versions of the Côte Saint-Luc Emergency Preparedness Plan since the early 80s it is critical that we always think about our roles and responsibilities in dealing with various types of emergencies, including man-made incidents and natural disasters. It provides the specific procedures to follow in emergency and includes city staff, volunteers, partner services and the public.
As the council member responsible for emergency preparedness I am focused on practicing and refining our skills so that we can be more prepared when a disaster does strike. Our Emergency Preparedness Committee, made up of city council, staff and subject matter experts, meets on a regular basis to review our plan, organize training scenarios and help ensure that we are always ready to intervene at a moment’s notice.
Our director responsible for this plan is Jordy Reichson, a long-time member of the administration and volunteer in the city’s EMS first responder services. Jordy ensures that a management structure is put into place, which will deals with everything from sheltering evacuees, clearing roads, keeping records, screening volunteers and communicating with the public through various means including social media and our new mass communication system (to be launched soon).
Thank you to our staff and volunteers for their constant attention in support of our emergency readiness. Under the professional leadership of Reichson is his new trusty manager, Philip Chateauvert along with our corps of EMS and vCOP volunteers and public security agents. City Manager Tanya Abramovitch and our department directors all get involved in this important issue. We partner with the CLSC for health issues, local police Commander Marc Cournoyer, CP Rail Police and Federation CJA’s community security chief. Leadership, collaboration and preparedness are key to the long term safety of our community and our residents.