Residents of Steinbach are being warned that the sights and sounds of emergency lights and sirens will be very evident in the city next week Tuesday.
A mock disaster is being staged by the Steinbach Emergency Operations and response teams to test the city's emergency plan. The mock event will be a dangerous goods transportation scenario from approximately 10 am to 4 pm.
"This is a great opportunity to put all of our emergency planning into practice," says Steinbach Emergency Coordinator Denis Vassart. "We stimulate an emergency and respond as if it's really taking place."
As a result, Loewen Boulevard will be closed from Henry Street to the east entrance of Oak Crescent. There will be restricted traffic along Loewen Boulevard from Hospital Street to Henry Street as well as from Walnut Street to Oak Crescent.
"We won't allow traffic through, there will be a flag person there to reroute," explains Vassart. "We are asking the public not to try going down Loewen Boulevard from 10 am to probably 4 pm at the very latest."
The exercise will include the help of about 115 people. Other organizations taking part include Southern Health EMS, Bethesda Regional Health Centre, Hanover School Division, Steinbach Fire, RCMP, Public Works and other volunteers.
Vassart asks the public to stay clear and allow volunteers and responders to do their jobs. Those living along Oak Crescent and Loewen Boulevard should have received a pass card which will allow them access through road blocks.
"We treat this as a real situation," says Vassart. "It's important that responders don't have to worry about non-participants jeopardizing the safety of our responders or distracting them from their role in the event."
According to Vassart, they are mandated to do a full-scale exercise every three years, unless there is an incident that is within the jurisdiction of their emergency plan. The city of Steinbach held a mock tornado exercise in 2009, while Hanover staged a dangerous goods incident in 2012. Meanwhile, both Steinbach and Hanover have set up a reception centre for wildfires in the last seven years and in 2014 there was a natural gas explosion in Hanover.
The city thanks the public for their cooperation while response teams are being trained.
"If we can ask people to be patient with us," says Vassart. "If you can avoid using Loewen Boulevard to make your trip around the city, we would much appreciate it."