Redcliff RCMP, fire department, Alberta Health Services (AHS) paramedics, Alberta Sheriffs, and representatives from the Canadian Red Cross were all on-hand at the open house at the Redcliff fire hall on Sunday to give the town’s residents an opportunity to meet some of the first responders who would be working to ensure their safety in the event of an emergency situation. And, when a major emergency occurs, these would just be some of the organizations that will be involved in ensuring people’s safety.
RCMP Cst. Melanie Hamill, who has been with the detachment for about six months, spearheaded the idea for the open house a month ago and thought it would be a great way for people to meet their local first responders.
“This is something I brought up during Emergency Preparedness Week (May 5-11) and it spread to the EMS and we got in touch with other organizations,” said Hamill. “It gives the people in Redcliff a chance to meet their first responders and it helps to break down some of those barriers, especially with the police, in a nice, relaxed atmosphere. It also allows the police to meet with other first responders who they may only see at the scene of an incident.”
Charity Schweitzer, from Redcliff’s Community and Protective Services said the event was a joint effort between the Town and the RCMP.
When an emergency happens, we all work together,” said Schweitzer.
Tina Wideen, emergency management coordinator for the Canadian Red Cross was also available, along with a pair of volunteers, to inform people about how to prepare for an emergency, the importance of having an emergency preparedness kit in your home and vehicle, as well as what items to include in those kits.
“Ive done emergency preparedness talks and people tell me after that they went home and started their kits. Once they start, they realize it isn’t that hard. It’s about re-thinking the way we think about it,” said Wideen. “It’s not just something you do once and forget about. It about having one in your home, when you’re taking trips down the highway, going boating. What do you need when you’re going hiking? It’s about being prepared.”
Redcliff mayor Dwight Kilpatrick who is a long-time member of the local fire department, said that if a major emergency situation were to occur, first responders may not be able to get to all people in the community right away, so it’s important for individuals to have 72-hour emergency preparedness kits.
“One of the biggest misunderstandings is people often think we can be there immediately. Any community can prepare for small emergencies, but you have to prepare for the first 72 hours yourself if something major were to happen,” said Kilpatrick. “When it comes to the bigger things, you may not get instant help. There could be evacuations, you may be put up in shelters, the highway may be shut down. You need to prioritize some of your important things.”
If evacuations are required, people may not have a lot of time to gather their important belongings, so having the kit ready to go is vital.
“Very few people have a three-day emergency kit and don’t keep their important stuff handy. You may have an hour or less to get out in the case of a tornado, flood, or train wreck and there could be power outages,” said Kilpatrick. “Mostly, what we would experience here would be weather related and we’ve been very lucky here. We have teams that prepare all the time, but we need citizens to prepare too.”