Emergency meeting draws small turnout

A “disappointing” number of people showed for a recent town hall-style meeting to discuss emergency preparedness, but organizers say at least it’s a beginning.

A “disappointing” number of people showed for a recent town hall-style meeting to discuss emergency preparedness, but organizers say at least it’s a beginning.

“I would have liked to have seen twice, or three times that number,” said District of Port Hardy’s emergency program director, Bob Hawkins, referring to the approximately 50 people who showed for the Oct. 5 meet at the Civic Centre.

“But it’s a start,” he added.

Brochures and a quick video presentation were offered at the meeting that told those who attended they must rely on themselves if a catastrophe strikes.

“In a big emergency we’re going to be strapped for personnel and it could take close to a week for (outside) help to reach us,” Hawkins told the assembled.

“In most major incidents, you’ll have to look after yourselves and prepare yourselves.”

Outside the meeting Hawkins said he wasn’t trying to frighten anyone, but the facts are there.

“Rule 1 for all emergency responders is to ensure their own safety first, before they move safely to where they’re supposed to go,” he said.

“A lot of the responders will be tied up responding to their own emergencies.”

As well, most major news organizations reported earlier this week that B.C. is in for an unusually harsh winter.

However, the best defence against a disaster is to be prepared with enough food and water to see you and yours through at least 72 hours, attendees were told.

The reason for the meeting last week was prompted by recent events.

“We’ve been promoting awareness in the background, but after the floods last year we decided to have a town meeting to discuss emergency procedures.”

The district does have a disaster response handbook policies manual, but nothing similar for citizens.

“Neighbours have to talk to neighbours and organize themselves,” said Hawkins, who added people are invited to email him and ask for directions.

“I’m more than happy to help them out,” he said.

Email Hawkins at emergency@porthardy.ca for more information about what to do during and emergency.