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Prince Edward County prepared for emergencies – are you?

The County's Emergency Control Group members Mayor Peter Mertens, Fire Chief Scott Manlow and evacuation centre co-ordinator Joanne Munro-Cape thanked participants for an emergency exercise well done.

Prince Edward County, by nature of its rural setting, is already generally better prepared than urban centres when it comes to dealing with emergency situations.
“Rural communities overall are better suited to cope with emergencies,” said Fire Chief Scott Manlow, a key member of the County’s Municipal Control Group for emergency planning. “Many of our residents already have the resources in place such as generators and wood heat. We’re already used to checking in and helping our neighbours,” he said. “As an example, we know our local grocery store managers, our hardware store managers and their telephone numbers. We are fortunate our community is set up this way.”
Key officials, agencies and departments within the County held a “table top” exercise this week to ensure initial response procedures, guidelines and responsibilities will be effective in case of emergency.
“Common sense is key,” added Manlow. “In any emergency we first analyze the situation and the risks and we make the best decisions from there.”
Mayor Peter Mertens, as head of council, is tasked with declaring an emergency in the municipality after consultation with the control group members which include the mayor and CAO, fire chief, OPP detachment commander, commissioner of public works, medical officer of health, director of social services and a public information co-ordinator.
Emergencies, he noted, are defined as situations or threats of impending situations which would affect the health, safety and welfare of the community.
“We do these practice sessions to test the response of a number of agencies under the direction of the Municipal Control Group,” said Mertens. “Emergencies most likely to occur in the County would be things like floods, blizzards, ice storms, gas leaks or power blackouts,” Mertens noted, adding that that County needs to be prepared for anything, including hazardous spills, building collapse, fires, explosions or any combination of emergencies.
When any department in the County learns of an emergency or potential emergency, contact is made with the fire department to request the notification system be activated. The fire department notifies all members of the Municipal Control Group whose members then notify staff and volunteer organizations.
This week’s exercise, attended by Control Group representatives, council members and municipal staff, included the responsibilities of Social Services to operate an evacuee centre at the Prince Edward Community Centre. Social Services employees register everybody who attends the centre. They look after those who have been displaced from their homes, need clothing, food and personal care. Social Services’ Joanne Munro-Cape was centre coordinator. She gave periodic updates about the “disaster” and kept those in the centre informed.
Prince Edward Collegiate Institute students in Matt Sheehan’s drama course were “in character” as people who were injured, in shock and needed to be distracted with activities to cope with the emergency.
“We hold these exercises to make sure we have practised and will be ready,” said Manlow. “One of the most important things County residents can do is have their 72-hour emergency kit in place. Everybody should make sure they have everything they would need for 72 hours.”

Create a 72-hour emergency kit

Every family should have a 72-hour emergency kit containing water, food, first-aid supplies, tools, clothing, bedding and special items – including at least one week’s supply of medication, spare batteries, food and water for pets. Note: consume and replace canned and dry goods once a year.
Use the checklist, and video below, as a guide:

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