The Emergency Management Exercise that occurred in Bragg Creek, Redwood Meadows and Tsuut'ina First Nations last week, received an overwhelmingly positive response from residents. 

Fire crews from Rocky View County, Redwood Meadows, Tsuut'ina Nation, Crossfield, Cochrane, Mountain View County, and Wheatland County all took part in the exercise. 

Ken Hubbard, the Deputy Fire Chief with Rockyview County, who also was the incident commander for the exercise said that while some of the deliverables following the debrief after the exercise are still being assessed, he did share that the collaboration between various departments was essential. 

“[We wanted] to make sure that our emergency responders, [who were] working collaboratively together with other municipalities can work through any challenges or any incident requirements that would help us make our plan more successful and working together,” he said. 

Thursday’s exercise was staged on the premise that there was a wildfire coming out of Kananaskis. 

“Rocky View County has very different needs. In some areas, we have some larger residential areas as well as some very diverse rural areas that border some different infrastructure, either the foothills and the boreal forest to the West and rural plains and agricultural lands throughout the East.” 

Deputy Chief Hubbard underlined the particular importance of working with their First Nations counterparts to ensure all departments and first responder personnel had similar mapping systems, and radio communication systems, and that everyone was able to work in a unified fashion. 

From the point of view of citizens, Hubbard said that there was receptiveness and openness to such an exercise. 

“The information we gave and the contact with our citizens was very positive. Some of the takeaways we had from that, [are that] we're looking at some of the gates that are locked in the community and how we would address some of those,” Hubbard said.  

The evacuation guides that firefighters handed out includes an evacuation kit checklist and step-by-step explanations of what an actual evacuation would look like. The guide covers wildfires, floods, as well as how to leave an area when there is a natural gas or electricity danger.   

“We use three different colours of flags, to make sure we know that we've been to this property, the residents are aware and they're leaving, there was nobody at home and leaving instructions for them to contact us or what they should do to evacuate if it did return home,” he said. “And again, if those who decided they wanted to stay in place, making sure they understood what the risks were, and that emergency services may not be able to provide assistance to them and they were in harm's way.” 

Currently, in Alberta, there are 12 active wildfires, one of those, near the Lac La Biche area is deemed to be ‘out of control, meaning, “the wildfire is burning and is expected to continue growing.” Thus far in 2022, there have been 121 wildfires, 13 of which have been in the Calgary area. 70 wildfires are under investigation, while 51 are deemed to have been human-caused. 

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