Warman residents who receive emergency notifications on their cell phones won’t notice any big differences following the city’s switch-over to a new system effective January 1, 2019.
“The citizens who signed up for the Warman ‘Notify Now’ system will still get alerts,” said Warman’s outgoing Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) Coordinator Randy Meginbir. “It will just be a new type of system that comes across their phones, with a little different look to it.
“Once the new system is up and operational, residents will still get weather alerts and other notifications just as they have since the system was put in place several years ago.”
The biggest difference, according to Meginbir, is that the new system will be more comprehensive and at the same time less expensive.
“From a emergency management point of view, we’ll be able to track the storm systems moving in with more accuracy; and also issue targeted alerts to specific areas of the city if required, rather than the entire municipality.”
Warman first instituted an emergency notification system known as ‘Notify Now’, in May, 2015. The system was supplied by Everbridge, a company based in the United States, and it has worked well, according to Meginbir.
But the decision to switch to a Calgary-based company made sense from a logistical and financial standpoint, he added.
The city has contracted with ICEsoft Technologies Canada Corp. to implement the ‘Voyent Alert!’ emergency notification system.
“About a year and a half ago, we were approached by ICEsoft Technologies regarding their emergency notification software,” said Meginbir. “We met with them and we liked what they had to offer in terms of enhanced mapping and tracking capabilities. The company is Canadian, and the system has a lot of advantages, including less cost.”
Meginbir, who has held the position of EMO Coordinator since 2014, is stepping down. A new EMO Coordinator will be appointed in the coming weeks.
Meginbir was instrumental in boosting the capacity of the city’s EMO to respond to emergency situations. He helped establish a permanent Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at the Warman Fire Hall and was a key organizer of the Warman Emergency Response Team (WERT), which is recognized as a model for other communities across the province.
“We’ve come a long way since I was handed a cardboard box and a laptop,” said Meginbir in an interview in mid-December. “I think it’s very important to have an emergency management plan in place, and the volunteers I’ve worked with have been great. I also appreciate the support the mayor and council have given toward these efforts.”
Meginbir lives in Warman and is a full-time firefighter with the Saskatoon Fire Department. He said he will continue helping in a volunteer capacity.