Emergency exercises hailed as a success

The exercise was designed to test interagency cooperation and response, procedures, information systems, communications and coordination.

The large-scale exercise was held on Oct. 19.

A large-scale fuel leak in the Elk River, motor vehicle incidents involving hazardous materials and multiple injuries were all part of the mock scenarios on Oct. 19 as part of the RDEK’s full-scale emergency exercise in the Elk Valley and South Country.

“Between emergency responders, participating agencies, volunteers and emergency program personnel, we had over 100 people participating in the exercise,” says Elk Valley and South Country Emergency Program Coordinator Marianne Stone. “It presented so many learning opportunities for everyone who took part.”

The exercise was designed to test interagency cooperation and response, procedures, information systems, communications and coordination. There were mock accident scenes set up at the Sparwood Transfer Station and in the Elko area that involved multiple agencies and onsite response by members of the Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford, Hosmer and Elko Fire Departments along with the BC Ambulance Service. In Fernie, an Emergency Operations Centre was established to deal with a mock fuel spill north of Elkford and support the mock accident scenes.

“There were successes during the exercise and a number of good lessons learned. The incidents had multiple agencies responding and it was wonderful to see how they worked together on scene,” adds Stone. “Whether it was communication between agencies, communities or individuals, the exercise highlighted the importance of strong communication and we will now be working on a more comprehensive communications plan moving forward.”

The RDEK hosts a variety of training exercises throughout the year in each of its Emergency Program areas. “Our goal with these full-scale exercises is to test our Emergency Programs and provide an opportunity for responders and emergency program personnel to get together in a realistic scenario so that we can be more prepared for when real emergencies happen,” said RDEK Emergency Services Coordinator Travis Abbey. “These exercises take a huge amount of pre-planning and coordination and we are grateful to Marianne and her team for the work they put in to design the exercise and coordinate the people and agencies who participated.”