City completes full scale emergency exercise

By Hayley Ferguson
June 5, 2019 - 4:34pm Updated: June 5, 2019 - 7:23pm


Medicine Hat, AB - A propane filled van explodes in the parking lot of the Canalta Centre.

Screams fill the area as concert goers are evacuated from the arena.

It's a chaotic scene but thankfully it's just a test.

The city held a full scale emergency exercise on Wednesday to help prepare police, fire, and EMS to respond to a major crisis.

“What we walked into today wasn’t what was rumoured was going to happening.” Said Inspector Joe West with the Medicine Hat Police Service. “So we were a bit surprised by it, but that’s what it’s all about. Because although we can anticipate some hazards in the city, you can’t anticipate everything.”

First responders started arriving on scene shortly after a 9-1-1 call.

They discover a number of injured people and even some fatalities. Those were actors in full make up that were brought in to simulate victims of the explosion.

The city’s director for emergency management, Marrick Brown, says this exercise was meant to prepare emergency personnel to deal with casualties and work together effectively under intense pressure.

“Initially with any incident, there’s always a little bit of hard decision making that has to be made regarding what command looks like.” Brown continued. “Whether it be unified command or single incident command. But overall as the course of the exercise went on, the agencies were able to get that together and coordinate that response in an effect matter.”

While that was happening at the scene, city officials set up an emergency operations centre at Fire Hall number two.

“We’re learning lessons as we go. As much as you want an exercise to go 100 per cent perfect, it’s not going to happen that way. And in fact we want to find these lessons learned.” Brown said.

Although too early to say what the exact lessons everyone will take away are, all of the different agencies will now be sitting down to create an improvement plan.

"There's always lessons to be learned and we can always do better. And that's what the scenario is all about," said West.

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