Residents of Bragg Creek, Redwood Meadows and Tsuut'ina First Nations may have had firefighters knocking at their doors on Thursday by members of various fire departments and handed evacuation guides. RCMP and peace officers were also dispatched on the roads, handing out evacuation guides and directing traffic. 

A peace officer hands a resident a flyer during an Emergency Management Exercise (Photo by Anna Ferensowicz)A peace officer hands a resident a flyer during an Emergency Management Exercise (Photo by Anna Ferensowicz)

This was all part of the Emergency Management Exercise that took place during the course of the day. 

“The scenario is based on a fire that's coming out of Kananaskis,” said Incident Commander Ken Hubbard, who was heading the exercise. “It's very important for us to practice exercises and have opportunities to learn and develop tools for our challenges. [It’s also important for] our citizens and our [first] responders to work through training and knowing what to do in case of emergency.” 

Early in the morning fire crews from Rocky View County, Redwood Meadows, Tsuut'ina Nation, Crossfield, Cochrane, Mountain View County, and Wheatland County mustered and were dispatched to residential areas. 

“As we do that, we send out an assignment sheet that speaks to what our goals are. It's an action plan up to our headquarters. Following that our crews will come back and we'll look at any challenges or any difficulties with different properties,” Chief Hubbard said.   

Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management of Rocky View County, Randy Smith, said that Rockyview County Emergency Management has been working for some time now on developing evacuation plans, specifically within the Bragg Creek area. 

“It’s fine to come up with an evacuation plan on paper, but unless you actually put it into practice, you really don't know how it will work out for you,” he said. “During an actual emergency, that's not the time, you want to find out that you need to make some changes to your plan.” 

Smith said that this kind of exercise is part of the Emergency Management Act and that municipalities are required to have such events every four years.  

“This exercise Is to make sure that we're in compliance with the Emergency Management Act in Alberta,” Chief Smith said. “It just gives the teams that, that chance to without a lot of pressure to go through the plan, and actually walk it through.” 

Apart from door-to-door knocking, an Incident Command Post (ICP) was set up in the Bragg Creek Community Centre. According to a press release by Rock View County, “the Incident Command Post is the primary location for on-scene incident command and management.” 

An evacuation Centre was set up at Springbank Park for All Seasons. This,” mock evacuation centre provides a location away from the emergency for evacuees to gather and receive supports.” 

Fire Chief Smith said that in terms of what the public can gain from this, he underscored that it’s about education. 

“First of all, it's awareness. It gives our crews an opportunity to reach out to the community and give them an evacuation guidance plan. So, from the public's perspective, it's a little bit of education there, knowing and having that assurance that the county is exercising its emergency plan.” 

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.  

Residents are encouraged to sign up for the SAFE & SOUND alerts, as well as download the Alberta Emergency Alert app on their phones. 

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