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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Huron Challenge

Port Elgin | by John Divinski  

CAW Education Centre was full of first responders from throughout the region.

The CAW Family Education Centre was full of first responders from throughout the region.

There wasn't an emergency but a day of presentations on being and getting prepared, through the Huron Challenge series.

The event was held Thursday and hosted by  Emergency Management Ontario.

Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief, Allison Stuart says the meeting is one in a series that will help first responders work more efficiently together in a disaster scenario.

Stuart says we know we have a safe facility in Bruce Power inside the operation, but what if weather, such as a tornado or earthquake, affects the outside of the building.

She says these meetings will look at the consequences and how they're managed.

Featured speaker was Lt. General Russel Honore, commander of Joint Task Force for the recovery in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Honore says his message to the first responders was to realize that in a disaster the responders may be victims as well and have to address that issue.

He says when you're a victim and a leader, you respond differently to a disaster.

Honore urged the general public to become their own first responder in the event of an emergency.

He says be prepared and make sure your family knows evacuation plans and make sure that you have an emergency stock of food, water, cash and a crank-up radio to stay in touch.

Honore says citizens have to take care of themselves because government isn't good enough to do this.

Honore says he learned much during his work in New Orleans including how important the media can be.

He says they report what they hear and see but sometimes they ask the tough questions about things leaders may not be aware.

He says it's important to acknowledge that and work with the media to get the message out.

Several more meetings of this type will be taking place throughout the summer culminating in a major emergency exercise in Bruce County tentatively scheduled for October.


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