Regional district to put on emergency prep sessions

“I don’t blame the general public for their lack of preparedness,” says Shaun Koopman, protective services coordinator for the Strathcona Regional District (SRD), sitting at his desk surrounded on all sides by regional maps and photographs, whiteboards filled with planning charts and lists and a table full of what looks like a jumble of wires, alligator clips from jumper cables, satellite phones and maybe an old CB radio in there somewhere. “I can, however, try to do something about it.”

To that end, Koopman and the SRD has scheduled a few workshops in various locations around the region to bring people up to speed on how they can best prepare for the likely scenario that will play out following a significant seismic event.

There will be one session on Monday, Feb. 20 at Elder College (North Island College Dogwood campus), one on Cortes at the Klahoose administrative building on Sunday, Feb. 27 and one at Strathcona Gardens on Saturday, March 4.

Why should people go?

“Well, the first reason people should come to that it provides them with a chance for dialogue with the expert of the subject matter – me – and just talk about what it means for them to be prepared in the community,” Koopman says.

“It’s a chance to talk about whatever they want to talk about, ask me about the plan, learn what the different resources are that are available, dispel any myths that might be out there, learn what some of the hazards and vulnerabilities are within the community, that kind of thing.”

While he would like to just be able to give everyone in the community a list of things to do so they are ready for a serious event like a major earthquake, Koopman says, he just can’t.

“How a household should prepare for an emergency is completely different for each individual household,” he says. “You have to tie your preparedness to your individual circumstances.

“What I’m going to tell a family of eight living in a floodplain is going to be completely different from what I tell a single mother living on the top floor of an apartment building, just as an extreme example.”

He promises it’s not going to be a class.

There won’t be desks, and there won’t be a test at the end.

“I have my stuff that I want to talk about that I know it’s important for them to know, but almost more important is for them to have the opportunity to tell me what I can do for them or what they think is important for me to know. It’s just a chance to talk,” he says.

But there will also, he hopes, be some learning happening.

The course, if you want to call it that, “is to give people the skills they need to come together and help each other in a disaster. It’s definitely important for us, as first responders and emergency responders, to be prepared, but the level of the disaster and its effects on a community is really determined by the level of preparedness within individual household and within our neighbourhoods within our community.

We are way more resilient as a community if everyone has five days of food stockpiled, for example.”

Koopman says they won’t be doing a full-on first aid certification – there simply isn’t enough time to do that with everything else they need to get through – but there will be general first aid tips offered, as well.

“It’ll be mainly be things like how to dress wounds, bandage cuts, tie slings, that kind of thing, because those will be the most likely injuries after an event and if people have the skills to do those types of things, it can really help keep our first responders and medical people available to help those in more dire situations,” Koopman says.

People are asked to pre-register for the workshop they are planning on attending so they know how many people they are expecting.

And for those who can’t make it to one of these sessions but are still interested in the information being provided, Koopman says he’s happy to set up sessions for businesses or organizations who would like to bring him in.

“It doesn’t have to be the full four hour thing, either,” Koopman says. “It could even be just a basic, 60-minute household preparedness session or whatever they want to talk about.”

For more information on this session or to register – or to set up a private session with Koopman at your organization or workplace – contact Koopman by email at skoopman@strathconard.com or at 250-830-6702.