The City of Williams Lake completed a mock activation of its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) last week as it continues to train and prepare for any emergency following the events of last summer.
“We had some new equipment that we wanted to make sure that we tried out and we had our IT contractor on site supporting us to make the computers work flawlessly because obviously that’s a big part of managing an emergency is making sure that you have the right communication ,” says CAO Milo MacDonald noting they had received $25,000 in grant funding from the province to fully equip their EOC with things they realized they did not have last year.
While the mock activation was the first time they had setup since last summer MacDonald says they have been involved in a lot of preparations since including their debriefing and an evaluation of how they did which was incorporated into the mock activation.
“We do have the intention of doing other scenarios where we will actually take a practice scenario and do either a tabletop exercise or an EOC activation, and we’ll be doing that to support our airport as well,” he says.
As for if the City is more prepared should an event as the summer of 2017 occur again, MacDonald says he believes that the City is.
“We’ve had a lot of support externally from our partners in the province and we’ve some great relationships established with other partner agencies including the folks at the wildfire centre and the Cariboo Regional District so we feel like we’re really well prepared in terms of all of those communication channels being open,” says MacDonald.
“I think the other thing to recognize too at a staff level there’s a recognition throughout the City of the importance of this and kind of a renewed focus on it based on what happened so there’s been a lot of buy in from all of our various city departments. In fact this activation that occurred there were representatives of every City department to make sure that everyone were comfortable with their roles if we had to reactivate.”
MacDonald says meetings have also taken place between the Williams Lake Fire Department and industrial partners to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of managing industrial operations if we end up in another emergency situation.
“Many of our industrial operations aren’t able to simply shut down in a short period of time. There’s a tremendous amount of communication and preparation that needs to take place before they’re able to shut down their operations safely,” he says.
“Industry was very confident that there was a way of meeting and resolving some of those issues in advance, and I think those conversations have taken place pretty productively.”