Being ready for anything: That is the theme of this year’s National Emergency Preparedness Week. The national campaign is in its 25th year and the city of Airdrie is also doing what it can to educate residents on what to do in the event of any and all emergencies.
Lorri Laface, who is the Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the city said that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the public, perhaps inadvertently, important lessons in emergency preparedness, especially when it comes to stockpiling items. She added that quarantining during the pandemic brought forth the need for backup plans to be made, especially when it comes to knowing who in a household might be able to go shopping or provide basic necessity items.
“With emergency preparedness, we're really looking at that 72-hour window, but then anything that lasts a little longer can never hurt,” she said. “For those larger-scale emergencies or disasters, we would use all of our city resources and focus on taking care of the population, but especially the vulnerable population.”
According to the city’s website, “every household should have an emergency plan. This plan will take about 20 minutes to create and will ensure that you and your family know what to do in the event of an emergency. Your family may not be together when an emergency occurs. Plan how to meet or contact one another, and discuss what you would do in different situations.”
Laface said that those who can indeed take care of themselves by being prepared, are in turn helping emergency services, as they would then be able to focus on those most in need. When it comes to large-scale events, Laface said that there is a risk assessment done every year within the city.
“We look at our ability to manage these risks and to respond to them. A lot of them are weather-related and also looking into the future when speaking to those extremes,” Laface said. “Then there's also the manmade side of things; your wildfires. We just had a wildfire not too long ago, along the highway there. That kind of makes up the bulk of what would that would impact people that live here.”
As part of emergency preparedness, the provincial government is also doing its part and will be sending out a province-wide Alberta Emergency Alert test on Wednesday.
“Airdrie does use Alberta emergency alert. So that's the primary form that we will notify the public and we have authorized users that can go into the system and issue an alert for Airdrie.”
Laface said, knowing what we know now about how devastating COVID-19 was and continues to be and how it upended the lives of so many, it is important to remember that anything can happen to anyone. Being prepared for that anything will mitigate consequences and perhaps save lives.
“We probably didn't anticipate that COVID - human health emergency would happen and would impact us for such a long period of time. But it also just reminds us that we need to be ready for anything,” Laface said. “It just sharpens our skills on keeping a little bit more food and water around, and making sure that we have friends and family that we can reach out to for support.”
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