The District of Maple Ridge and the City of Pitt Meadows have been given an award for Excellence in Emergency Preparedness by a committee of representatives from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Emergency Medical Services Chiefs of Canada and the Canadian Association of the Chiefs of Police.
The award recognizes the collaboration between the two communities on the development and implementation of a comprehensive emergency evacuation program.
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows each have evacuation plans that cover a full spectrum of natural or man-made disasters, as flooding, weather disasters or industrial accidents will not be confined to the boundaries in each community.
Through the existing structure for joint emergency planning, a team was assembled to integrate emergency evacuation operations between the communities to further enhance public safety.
This team consisted of representatives from both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows police, fire and emergency operations teams. The unique aspect of this program, and what made it stand out for the committee reviewing the award submissions, was the integration of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.
This required the expertise of GIS specialists to develop a common database that would produce property addresses and a corresponding map that has already been divided into what the evacuation plan defines as ‘Canvassing Assignments.’
“With this system in place, we can quickly identify addresses that may be impacted by a disaster and generate address lists for our evacuation teams so that we can move into the field and direct citizens to safety quickly and efficiently,” said Barb Morgan.
The emergency evacuation manual contains 14 sections detailing every aspect of evacuation planning, from policy to operational details and assignments. It has been prepared in a way that key information can be updated easily as part of regular joint training and planning sessions.
The award was presented at the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs conference last week
“Not many communities in Canada that share a border, like we do with Pitt Meadows, have such a strong commitment to cooperation and integration in emergency planning and mutual aid,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said. “For Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the safety our responders, our citizens, our environment and our homes and businesses is the top priority. We are great neighbours.”