Brandon University hosts emergency preparedness conference

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Up to 80 emergency managers and local government officials from across western Manitoba will come to Brandon University (BU) this Thursday for an annual Brandon Emergency Support Team (BEST) conference looking at emergency preparedness.

The daylong conference will tackle three main topics under the heading “Managing the Future.” Participants will look at climate change scenarios with a focus on the Prairies, they will address communications and dealing with the media, and they will explore processes to design and develop emergency preparedness exercises.

“There are many things we can learn about disasters through research and improve our emergency management practices,” said Jack Lindsay, chair of BU’s Applied Disaster and Emergency Studies (ADES) program, and facilitator at the conference. “Whether it is floods or fires, disease or drought, there are common elements in ensuring resiliency, supplies of food and water, and lines of communication. Conferences like this one help us share best practices and to practice some of our skills.”

The conference also plays a role in getting people from different, nearby communities together and comfortable with each other before possibly being thrown together under a high-pressure, high-stakes situation.

“As we were reminded during the floods of 2011 and 2014, emergencies often affect many communities at once,” said Brian Kayes, Director of Risk and Emergency Management at the City of Brandon, BEST coordinator, and a presenter at the conference. “We draw on each other’s strengths and we lend a hand to neighbours who need it. It’s a lot more efficient when all the people involved are familiar to each other and have worked together before. In an emergency, efficiency can save lives.”


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