New academy to train Londoners on emergency preparedness

Andre Beauregard of London's emergency management department assists Mayor Ed Holder sign up for the alert London notification system, May 6, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

If disaster struck London, would the average resident know what they needed to survive the first 72 hours?

A new citizen academy launched Monday by the city as part of the kickoff to Emergency Preparedness Week aims to train Londoners on how to prepare for a large-scale emergency ahead of time. Participants of the public education citizen volunteer program will get both classroom and hands-on training to identify risks, make an action plan, and what to pack in a 72-hour emergency kit.

“Our citizens play a critical role in our successful management of any emergency situation. The academy will allow our public to come in and be part of the experience and gain further understanding of their role when it comes to emergency situations,” said Dave O’Brien, the head of emergency management for London. “If you have a 72-hour kit we know that you can take care of yourself for that period of time and we can focus on our needs on the people who need it the most. The citizen academy is providing that education in a very front and centre way so that everybody has that knowledge.”

The citizen academy sessions will also teach how to make an evacuation plan, how to shelter in place, and what to do in specific emergencies such as severe weather.

“We will be running these courses on a regular basis throughout the year… This will be an ongoing program within the emergency management area,” said O’Brien. “Giving people knowledge making them aware of the risks that are present within our community and how to respond to those particular situations is always going to make us safer and better prepared to respond.”

Londoners are once again being asked to sign up for the alert London notification system, which would send notifications by phone, text message, or email to let them know when a potentially life-threatening incident is happening within the city. The system uses geo-mapping technology to pinpoint the location of an emergency when it’s in progress and then activate Alert London to notify residents and businesses in close proximity.

“Notifications can be sent for anything from flooding, electrical outages, biohazardous material spills and severe weather,” said Mayor Ed Holder, who signed up for the service during a brief news conference at the Emergency Operations Centre on Boler Road.

As part of Emergency Preparedness Week, there will be a planned test of the system on Thursday at 10:55 a.m.

“Londoners look out for each other and we are asking them to carry on that same spirit of family and neighbours looking out for each other,” said Holder. “The citizen academy and the alert London notification system are two important proactive ways that Londoners can ensure the safety of their families.”

To sign up for the alert London notification system or to see a list of free events planned throughout the city for Emergency Preparedness Week click here.