Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding along with City of Regina Mayor Michael Fougere officially kicked off October 7 to 13 as Fire Prevention Week across Saskatchewan on Tuesday, October 9. Continue reading “Fire Safety Week focuses on preventing kitchen fires”
A provincial pilot project launched last year to train government employees as emergency response support personnel is “very similar” to the Warman Emergency Response Team (WERT) program, according to Duane McKay, Commissioner of Saskatchewan’s Emergency Management and Fire Safety (EMFS) department.
“Both programs began about the same time,” said McKay in an interview at the first training session for WERT volunteers in Warman on Thursday, June 2. “We began our program on a small scale to see if it would work. Unknown to us, Warman was deciding to do the same thing around the same time.
“When we found out about it, we were very excited to see that their work was very close to what we’re doing. So we want to provide support to this program and also somehow integrate it into the provincial initiative.”
McKay said the provincial pilot program is called the Civil Service Reserve Team (CSRT), and is open to any government employee who wants to volunteer to help out in emergency situations.
“The province recognizes that during disaster situations, we don’t always have the necesssary resources,” said McKay. “We also recognize that there are a lot of folks that would like to volunteer for this type of work, so about a year ago, the province sarted a pilot project where we took government employees and outfitted them and trained them to support the front-line emergency responders.”
The CSRT proved its worth during a number of events last year including wildfires in the north, said McKay. The CSRT volunteers do a variety of tasks from working in reception centres to moving emergency equipment and everything in between. A youth program to familiarize high school students with emergency service work that was launched two years ago by the province is also being integrated into the CSRT project.
The CSRT program was so successful the provincial office of Emergency Management and Fire Safety is recommending it be rolled out province-wide, said McKay.
“That’s where the Warman program fits in very well,” he said. “It’s a common sense approach that utilizes community volunteers who are specially trained. It makes a lot of sense.”
A sizeable turnout of volunteers were at the initial training session for WERT on Thursday, June 2 at the Legends Centre. During the session, volunteers learned the basics of “disaster preparedness” and got a glimpse of the scope of the training in store for them.
The basic training modules include first aid, safety, hazard awareness and incident command structure.
Warman Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) Coordinator Randy Meginbir, who is heading up the WERT program, told participants that once they are trained, they’ll become an integral part of the community’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).
“Proper communication and a chain of command is critical during disasters,” said Meginbir, who has 35 years of experience in emergency services. “The most important element is safety. A lot of people get hurt in the immediate aftermath of a disaster because they overlook basic safety in their desire to help out right away. They think with their hearts instead of their heads. We want you to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We will work with you to get you trained so you’re not at risk to yourself or others.”
Meginbir said the WERT program is an ongoing initaitive, with training sessions scheduled at regular intervals.
Additional volunteers are always welcome, he said. Applications are available at the Legends Centre and at Warman City Hall.
Meginbir said WERT volunteers need to register with the city’s Notify Now emergency alert system. He urged other residents to also register with Notify Now in order to be made aware of emergency situations.