Global Consulting and the North Shore arrange a prescient emergency exercise

Around 2:30pm on Tuesday a train on the rail line passing through the Capilano Indian Reserve stopped in distress. An open box car filled with sulphur was smouldering and threatening to break into flames.

By 2:54, fire trucks had arrived and began establishing an 800 metre perimeter around the site. Police patrolled the neighbourhoods using their PA systems to advise people to shelter-in-place. “Everybody stayed put., said North Vancouver Assistant Fire Chief Martin Ernst, “What amazed me today was the amount of compliance we had. “  Traffic routes around the spill were shut down, and by 4:30, the fire had been put out.

The three North Shore municipalities and the North Shore Emergency Management Office were well prepared and the coordinated effort worked well. A few months ago, they had held an emergency response exercise to test their public evacuation plan. The exercise involved municipal, provincial and federal government responders and First Nations community leaders. The exercise scenario? A vehicular chemical spill requiring an 800-metre radius evacuation zone.

The exercise was developed by Global Consulting and designed by our own Mararetha Lundh. When asked why she particularly chose a chemical spill as the exercise scenario, she replied,” A lot of chemicals –a lot of them are hazardous ones– pass through that area on the rail lines. We just decided to pick the highest impact type of incident that might happen there.” CBC News

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