Residents had a chance to get familiar with the people who would respond in an emergency, and the equipment they would use, at the second annual Altona/Rhineland Emergency Preparedness Expo on Thursday. 
Joining members of Altona's public works department, police service, and Altona/Rhineland Emergency Services this time around was the Plum Coulee Fire Department, Rhineland public works, the Hutterian Emergency Aquatic Response Team (HEART), Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, the Red Cross and RCMP. Each organization set up on the thawed Sunflower Gardens arena surface, including their response vehicles, ready to share the role they play in emergency response. 

"Every one of them starts at that call and makes that determination as to whether or not they can handle it, or if they're overwhelmed and they need the support of our team. So, that's where the municipal emergency coordinator role comes in," explained Perry Batchelor, Altona/Rhineland Municipal Emergency Coordinator. 

He offered up this scenario as an example.

"In the event of a large apartment fire in the middle of January or February, the fire department is going to respond, it will go through its mutual aid call outs to do what they can with the fire. But then what do you do with all those residents in that building? That's where we come in and through help with the Red Cross, they're the ones that help us find hotel rooms for people. Our evacuation center would be set up, but that's temporary, so then we've got to get them to some permanent lodgings while they're looking for another place to live."

Assistant MEC, Barry Friesen, Altona councilor, Tammy Braun, and MEC, Perry BatchelorAssistant MEC Barry Friesen, Altona councilor Tammy Braun, and MEC Perry Batchelor

The expo also offered up benefits to the local emergency responders, added Batchelor. "It's nice to be able to meet in a non-disaster setting and get to know each other. So, there's lots of visiting between the displays as well. Great networking opportunity."

Those passing through the displays also had the chance to learn about the importance of having a 72-hour emergency kit at the ready in their homes. 

"Those first 72 hours are on you, so you have to be prepared to manage your household, your family for 72 hours," explained Batchelor. "As you can well imagine, if we use the scenario of a tornado, we're going to be overwhelmed. All of our emergency responders will be dealing with the situation. The tornado may knock power out for the entire community. What are you going to do to supplement your power? It may take out the grocery store. How are you going to survive for the first 72 hours until we can start getting some food trucks and water trucks in here?"

Emergency supplies include canned goods, a manual can opener, candles and a battery-operated radio, to name a few. "So, you can get all of your information from Golden West as we're putting things out through their radio stations," added Batchelor. People also need to consider how they would safely heat their homes in case of a winter emergency. "So, those first 72 hours, critical 72 hours, it's going to be a miserable 72 hours."

Residents of Altona and the Municipality of Rhineland were also able to register for each community's Connect service. The free emergency notification system sends alerts to your email, cell phone, or landline. Click to register for Altona's service, and here for the Municipality of Rhineland.