The City of Lethbridge has responded to two emergency events in less than year. These events prompted the activation of our Emergency Plan (MEP) including the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) located at fire headquarters.
We treat an emergency as an event that requires prompt coordination of persons or property to protect the safety, health or welfare of people or to limit damage to property. Lethbridge’s most common emergencies are weather related; snow, flood, fire, and/or high winds. The City also prepares for industrial, chemical and rail accidents as well as power outages.
What does the City do in an emergency?
When an Incident Commander (Fire or Police) arrives on scene, they determine the resources required to support the event taking place. The Commander connects with the Chief on Call and agrees to activate the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) located in the new downtown Fire headquarters on 207 4th Avenue South.
When the EOC is opened the City utilizes modern technology that contacts emergency officials with one call. Responders acknowledge they have heard the message and the Fire Chief is able to keep track of who is on route to the EOC.
Depending on the size and nature of the emergency, a partial or full activation of the EOC is determined. In the case of a full activation the following people gather together:
• Emergency Operations Centre Director- Fire Chief or Chief on Call
• Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator- Deputy Chief and/or Emergency Management Coordinator
• Chief of Operations- Typically the agency affected the most by the emergency.
o (ex. Police, Fire, EMS, Transit, Transportation, Public Works, Red Cross)
• Public Information Officer, City of Lethbridge Corporate Communications
• Chief of Planning- This is a representative who can come from various City departments (ex. facility services, Transportation, etc.) depending on the nature of the event.
• Chief of Finance & Administration- In the case of a prolonged emergency event, this representative would oversee the finances of the event
• Liaisons from various companies or stakeholders outside of City departments
o (ex. Epcor, Atco, Canadian Healthcare Association, Alberta Emergency Management Agency, Alberta Health Services)
• Senior City Staff and Political Representatives - This group handles the many aspects of an emergency and ensures efforts are coordinated and resources are available as required. In the case of the September 2012 wildfires, the fires also impacted the County of Lethbridge and the County activated their EOC which maintained communication with the City of Lethbridge EOC on a regular basis to ensure efforts remained coordinated.
When communicating with the public in an emergency, the City of Lethbridge utilizes social media, the website (www.lethbridge.ca , and updates local media on a regular basis. The City uses the Alberta Emergency Alert system, a digital public warning system used to alert the public of hazards, potential emergencies or disasters, through participating distributors (such as broadcast media) and the Internet.
The EOC remains open and functions until the emergency is over. Following the disbanding of the EOC, debrief meetings are carried out to record what worked well and what can be improved on in the future. Those lessons assist in making improvements for future events.
What Can Residents Do To Be Prepared?
• Residents should also be prepared for emergency situations. The Government of Canada asks citizens to have a 72 hour emergency plan. Information can be found here.
• Stay informed during an emergency
o Listen to the radio
o Watch TV or check local news or government websites
o Follow City of Lethbridge website, Twitter, or Facebook
o Follow Alberta Emergency Alert Twitter
The safety of residents is our number one concern and the City of Lethbridge is prepared and ready to ensure the necessary resources are available in the event of any emergency.
Click here for Frequently Asked Questions Regarding How the City Responds in Emergencies