In Brampton, good things come in “threes”. At least when dealing with emergency management. We have three response teams, A, B and C. We offer training sessions three times to make sure all our teams get the full package. Finally, our exercise series is always a group of three sessions.
In September and October 2017, we held exercise Tempest, a tornado exercise scenario. Tempest I was for team A and was a full-scale exercise, the largest the City of Brampton has ever held. Tempest II was held only in the EOC and gave Tea
m B the task of transitioning from response into recovery, while Tempest III had Team C take on the task of coordinating the recovery plan activities.
Tempest I involved 174 staff from the City of Brampton including Mayor Jeffrey, the Region of Peel including Peel Police, and
partner agencies, along with over 60 volunteers and 20 evaluators/observers. We had 8 fire trucks, 2 buses, 7 police vehicles and 1 ambulance on site. The exercise play was held at the Brampton Powerade Centre where the parking lot was turned into a disaster zone. With cars turned over, trees and branches mixed with all sorts of debris, and volunteers dressed with make-up of bloody parts, severed limbs and other injuries, the place was reminiscent of an apocalyptic movie set.
On site, beyond the victim extrication, the emergency medical intervention, and the triage, we also had a hazmat incident involving a fake chlorine tank rupture, a lost autistic patient, and a woman going into labour. As part of the scenario, one of the buses took on volunteers designated as people to be evacuated to the reception centre/shelter set up at the South Fletcher Sportsplex where Social Services and Red Cross set up to provide them with emergency social services. The other bus took twenty “injured” people and brought them to the emergency room at the Brampton Civic Hospital where a code Orange was declared.
While all of this was going on, the emergency plan was activated, the EOC was opened and the IMS system put to use to support all of these sites. The exercise ran for about two and a half hours and gave us a chance to identify any concerns and gaps in our plans. We included newer elements such as a test Twitter account to see if we were able to send out the information to our citizens in a timely manner.
The planning for all this took almost a full year with the help of Emergency Management Training Inc. who was contracted to develop the scenario and the injects as well as help coordinate the event.
Tempest II had 58 participants including Councillor Palleschi and 2 evaluators. It allowed us to take what had come out of Tempest I and use it as the starting point with the goal of transitioning from response to recovery. Tempest II had another 46 participants including Councillor Bowman and 4 evaluators, this time using the data collected from Tempest I and II to move fully into a recovery plan and set the ground work for what would probably be weeks and months of emergency social service, repairs and rebuilding, as well as economic recovery.
All participants really got into their roles which made for a series of great exercises. We have yet to compile all of the comments from the evaluations but we can already see a few themes for our 2018 workplan. The technology aspect is one that we aim to enhance as well as more clarity on some of the roles non-traditional responders would play.
All three teams performed very well with their respective issues and we are confident that we will have the depth needed in a large-scale or prolonged situation so that we never burn out any of our people. You know the saying that three is a crowd, but when dealing with large-scale emergencies, then a crowd is what you need. So Brampton’s three teams make the exact kind of crowd we want.