Training for Emergency Coordinators took place in the Village of St. Pierre earlier this week. 

People training to be Emergency Coordinators showed up from all over the province.

Shelly Napier, owner of Napier Emergency Consulting and Executive Director of the Manitoba Association of Municipal Emergency Coordinators, was heavily involved in the exercise. 

She says the training in St. Pierre was module 5 of an eight-module training process, and this module was on reception centre management. 

A reception centre is where people go to get help in an emergency. Emergency Coordinators help direct people, provide lodging, and keep track of people evacuating.

They spent the day teaching the Municipal Emergency Coordinators and their teams and councils what happens when you have to open up a reception centre.

They did theory in the morning, teaching the Emergency Coordinators roles and responsibilities, what a reception centre does, and the psychological aspect of meeting people's needs.  

Napier says the best way to learn a task is by doing a task, so they set up a room in the Bible Fellowship Church and gave everybody a role to play.  

In the afternoon, they put what they learned into practice with volunteers in the afternoon. 

“We brought in students and church members and other community volunteers to act as evacuees. We gave them scenarios, as you would have at a real evacuation, and they came through our registration and inquiry, and our teams handled all the needs of the evacuees. It went very well.” 

She explains a few different types of evacuee actors they had. 

“One mother was there and she had five young children between two and 10, and we had her act as a daycare and they had been evacuated and she wasn't able to get a hold of any of the parents. So what then do you do when you have five children that are not your children? They are in your care and control, but they're not your children.” 

Napier says they also had some volunteers act as confused elderly people, people with medical issues, and people who were intoxicated. 

“These were all actors. The RCMP actually put handcuffs on one of our evacuees and pretended to arrest them.” 

Fake arrest. Photo provided

Everybody that came in had a problem and visited the registration and inquiry desk. The Emergency Coordinators made sure that they got all the information and then they sorted evacuees based on their needs.

“We had food services to feed our evacuees and we had probably 80 people go through the reception centre in the afternoon. So it was really a successful exercise.” 

Napier says emergencies happen all the time, and emergency training is necessary to prepare for these situations. 

“We have to be prepared to take care of our most valuable commodity, and that's human beings. We have to look after the vulnerable, the older people in our communities, the younger people in our communities, families,” she says. “If you think about your own family, if you were sitting there and a tornado whipped through your community, where would you go? Or if there was a raging fire like they had in Maui, where do people go? Or a hurricane or tornado, where do you go?” 

She says reception centres are common practice, and they are an essential function of emergency management. 

Mayor of the Village of St. Pierre Raymond Maynard gathered people to volunteer to participate in the exercise and he himself also volunteered. 

As Emergency Coordinators are essential in making sure everyone is in good condition when danger strikes, Maynard says having the community take part in this training was very educational. 

“For us as a village, it was a great way for everybody to learn what could happen in case of an emergency.” 

He is glad St. Pierre was selected as a location for one of the modules, as it was a great opportunity for the community to be more prepared in case of an emergency. 

“It’s great to have these people that are fully trained because most people in town, when it comes to emergency or disaster, they don’t know what to do. To have these people to coordinate everything along with the groups under them, it’s an extra step for the safety of all the residents and that’s what’s important.” 

Module 6 is going to be in late November or early December, and the topic for Module 6 is on volunteers. 

Napier says for each module, they run the training more than once.

“We try and have sort of one in the South, and we will run another one usually somewhere in western Manitoba.” 

After the final module in March, they will graduate all of the Municipal Emergency Coordinators that have gone through all eight modules. 

“We are going to have a graduation ceremony with certificates and recognition for their hard work in going through this very difficult program.” 

The eight modules train Emergency Coordinators on the most critical components of emergency management and how to take care of communities in times of disaster. 


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