As Emergency Preparedness Week is marked across Canada I took part in a site tour of the Montreal Agglomeration Emergency Preparedness Centre located at the Fire Department’s headquarters on Mount Royal. Housed in a stately, mansion-like structure on sprawling grounds rolling down to Park Ave, the centre is ready, 24/7 in case of a large scale crisis anywhere on the Island of Montreal.
The mission of the Emergency Preparedness Centre (Centre de sécurité Civile) is to ensure the prevention of major accidents and to prepare boroughs, suburban cities and central city services related to major risks and provide strategic support to the coordination of stakeholders in civil safety during disasters and disaster recovery.
While the website of the Emergency Preparedness Centre is full of information and resources, it is quite absurd that none of this information is available in English. I was sure to point this out to fire officials on the tour, as I have done in the past.
Another excellent feature launched some months ago by the centre is an emergency notification service, also known as Reverse 911. This service will make outbound calls to thousands of agglomeration residents’ landline phones to signal a large scale emergency, such as warnings to stay indoors in case of chemical explosion, or to evacuate, or to boil water. You can also manually register your cell phone for SMS and voice notifications.
Inexcusably, the registration page is not available in English however emergency centre officials assured me that the outbound calls are in French as well as in English.
I find it amazing that millions of dollars are well invested in emergency preparedness to save lives and property unless of course you cannot speak or read French, in which case does the city of Montreal really care about you at all?
I attended this otherwise excellent tour and information meeting with Cote Saint-Luc Councillor Ruth Kovac, Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson and Chief Jerome Pontbriand. Hats off to the personnel of the centre in doing fine work to try to keep us all safe.