Preparing for disaster
Emergency planning moving ahead

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKI N INLET (Oct 20/99) - The Kivalliq Region isn't in bad shape to deal with an emergency situation, but the man in charge says it's still not at the standard he'd like to see.

Shawn Maley, regional superintendent for the Department of Community Government and Transportation and Nunavut Emergency Services, met with a number of organizations this past week to discuss the territorial, regional and community emergency plans and the role of the Emergency Measures Organization and Nunavut emergency measures.

"Here in the Keewatin, we haven't done a whole lot in the area of emergency preparedness in the past five years," says Maley.

"The tragic polar bear incident we had a few months back showed that we did have a decent response, but is it perfect? No."

Maley's department is mandated through federal and territorial (Emergency Measures Act) legislation to be the emergency measures organization for Nunavut.

The department is set up both territorially, through its deputy minister's office, and regionally, through each regional superintendent's office.

"Our mandate is to ensure our communities and regions are properly prepared and resourced to respond to emergency situations, of which search-and-rescue efforts are one component," says Maley.

"The general consensus at the table during our meeting was that everyone wanted to work towards a higher standard."

Maley says there were existing emergency plans at the local and regional levels until April 1.

He says emergency plans changed over from the GNWT fairly intact, but the legislation has to be made under Nunavut before they can be applied.

"The whole focus of the meeting was, basically, here's how it works, here's where we're at and here's where we're going to be in the next two months.

"The territorial plan is done and being reviewed by cabinet now."

Maley says the first level of response to an emergency situation is the local authority, which is the hamlet.

If the hamlet feels it can't respond alone, then his department is called in and either takes over planning completely or acts in a supporting role.

While a hamlet is responsible to have its own plan of action devised, Maley is working with the Rankin hamlet to ensure that it does.

"I don't like to rush plans because the more accurate they are, the more applicable they'll be in a real life situation."

"You never reach a point where you say, 'OK, we're ready!' You're always trying to improve it.

"But as it stands right now, the territorial plan is in place, the role people need to play will be in place and we're hiring a co-ordinator to redo the new plan which probably won't be completed until March."