Yesterday (October 26), all municipalities within the County of Lacombe participated in a simulated evacuation caused by a winter storm. Over 200 people attended the mock evacuation centre at the Lacombe Memorial Centre.
“The practice incident was the evacuation due to failing utilities and weather conditions of two neighboring municipalities Bentley and Clive. We stood up a reception centre to welcome evacuees from those communities. During that time, we had an escalation of the incident in which Highway 2 was closed between Morningside and the Highway 2, Highway 12 intersection. We had approximately 200 motorists come in needing shelter as well,” said Lacombe’s Chief Administrative Officer and Acting Incident Commander for the simulated Evacuation, Matthew Goudy.
Overall, the simulated evacuation was considered a successful test of the City’s emergency response plans and highlighted some areas that could be improved on.
“Communication is always something [we’re working on]. In this particular instance, we were testing out a new system of managing the reception center. We identified some areas where there was overlap and they were duplicating some duties. We could actually be a little bit more efficient in how we respond to these types of incidents,” said Goudy.
Despite a couple challenges, the simulated event was deemed a success. Lacombe City Councilllor and Acting Deputy Mayor, Don Gullekson was happy to see the Regional Emergency Social Services plan in action in a mock scenario.
“You can’t measure how important they are for these people that do the work. It’s good for me to say ‘don’t get involved in this and stay away’. As politicians our job is to ensure that these things happen, that they get an opportunity to do it, and have the tools to do their job. It is the perfect time to be looking at that when there really isn’t an incident,” said Gullekson.
Students from Terrace Ridge School, and Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School were involved with the evacuations and playing a role in the simulated event.
“A lot of them got really involved in it and made-up actual injuries. They played the role very well,” said City of Lacombe Fire Chief, Dennis Cole.
Around 20 to 30 Royal Oak Village independent-living residents were also involved with the evacuation. Other municipalities in the County activated their reception centers for the evacuation as well.
Live exercises such as the simulated evacuation are executed every four years but table talks surrounding emergency plans occur annually.
Should an incident ever occur, it is important that residents remain informed.
“If there is an incident actually occurring within cities, just pay attention to the information that's coming out. Know that we are prepared in the event something does happen. That's what doing events like today help us to prepare for. If something does happen, we are trying to stay ahead of the game,” said Cole
“Look for information on our website that will be the source of the most accurate and up-to-date information we recently launched,” added Goudy.