Crisis & Recovery Words of Experience
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE | WORDS OF EXPERIENCE
Every town, county and municipal district in Alberta has its particular threats and weak spots. Crises, near misses and full-blown disasters occur sporadically, and our shared responsibility as managers of these communities is to prepare for these situations and mitigate their effects as effectively as possible. From front-line firefighters to office administrators, every municipal employee has a role and a responsibility during times of crisis.
- Train all staff and Council on emergency response procedures. Ensure your team is adequately prepared to deal with demanding situations, emotional stress and physical exhaustion.
- Foster a culture of respect and ownership within your workplace. In a time of crisis, individual initiative and decisiveness are imperative.
- Document everything; scribe from the moment of a potential risk. Use voice notes so that nothing is missed.
- Take a five to ten minute break every two hours. During a prolonged disaster situation, clear heads will prevail.
- Ensure that all staff have proper identification at all times.
- Don't ever let a culture of complacency set in, and don't ever think it can't happen to you.
- Have a communications strategy in place. If you don't, others will be established that you may have no control over.
- Information in a crisis is generally unclear and ambiguous. Try to communicate simply, clearly and consistently. Have a direct chain of command for messaging.
- Make sure you're getting the word out on all progress. People will be hypervigilant for even the smallest piece of information.
- Identify and maintain regular contact with key agencies. Ensure you know how to contact key individuals and organizations after hours.
- Have a strategy in place for providing essentials like food and shelter for emergency personnel and support crews who arrive on site.
- Utilize external incident command and emergency response personnel. These people are highly trained and emotionally detached from the given situation. Augment these teams with local resources.
- Maintain a current list of essential service providers such as merchants, gas stations, campgrounds, portable toilets, etc.
- Plan for the rescue and relocation of abandoned pets and livestock.
- Have a good information management system in place. Know who your residents and businesses are and how to contact them at a moment's notice.
- Evacuate hospitals and long-term care facilities sooner versus later.
- Put residents on a two-hour evacuation notice at the earliest possible opportunity. This gives them adequate time to collect personal effects and prepare themselves emotionally.
- Contact the evacuation centers that assisted with the Lesser Slave River crisis (such as Westlock or Athabasca) and ask for input on how to properly manage a reception facility.
- Beware of those looking to profit from disaster. Scrutinize all spending and purchase orders despite a state of local emergency.
- Establish finance operations immediately to later augment disaster recovery reporting. Contract an accounting firm if necessary
- Maintain replicated servers off-site so data can be properly backed up and easily retrieved.
- Invest in a records management system for hard copy documents, bylaws, policies and agreements. Today's technology makes this type of service accessible to most.
- Have a robust geographic information (GIS) system in place. Knowing the lay of the land will prove essential.
- Invest in radio communications equipment. Ensure staff know where radios are located and how to use them.
- Test your back-ups. If it's not tested, it's not a back-up.
- When resources are committed to one event, ensure that adequate reserves are brought in from other areas.
- Know where and how to get alternate water if yours runs out.
- Wherever practical, ensure residents play an active support role. Local knowledge will be invaluable to external emergency personnel.
- Encourage residents to maintain emergency kits at home, and to have an emergency response plan in place.
- Firesmart your landfill infrastructure.
- Be prepared to operate waste management systems manually for several days in the event of a power outage.
- Store excess fuel on-site just in case.
- Economic Development
- Fire & Protective Services
- Human Resources
- Planning & Development
- Public Works
- Assessment & Taxation
- Bylaw Enforcement
- Family & Community Support
- Health Care
- Mapping & Geographics
- Waste & Recycling
- NEWS & EVENTS
- VISIT US
- CONTACT US
- SITE MAP
- CRISIS & RECOVERY
- Disaster Timeline
- Emergency Operations
- Evacuation Efforts
- The Aftermath
- Ongoing Recovery
- Planning for the Future
- Multimedia Library
Listen to the personal accounts of those who weathered the fires.