Recent traffic accidents and forest fires remind us of several things — the obvious, including to drive slower; pay more attention; and to adhere to fire bans and distracted driving rules and all of the other regulations that are put into place to protect us from ourselves.
Accidents and natural disasters should also remind us of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice that emergency personnel demonstrate. Whether it is the first responders and our local volunteer firefighters, paramedics and ambulance staff, RCMP, forest firefighters, and even civilian support workers, from tow truck drivers to flaggers – they all demonstrate amazing service and sacrifice.
Also in the case of a natural disaster, whether that be fire, flood, mudslides or many others, local governments play an important role.
In the Columbia Valley we have a shared emergency management program and staff that ensure that no matter which political boundary is impacted, the response is consistent and extremely well organized.
Municipal or regional district staff perform a great deal of work behind the scenes in the case of disaster response, everything from setting up command centres, coordinating communication, coordinating evacuations, to setting up public reception centres.
We all hope that we don’t need to utilize emergency response plans and emergency personnel, but we should be thankful that we have plans in place and great people ready to act in a seconds notice if we need them.
Gerry Taft is the mayor of the District of Invermere and a Regional District of East Kootenay director for the Columbia Valley.