04-01-2004, 04:02 AM #1
Unprepared, Ill Equipped and Nobody Listens
OTTAWA (CP) - The main federal agency charged with emergency
preparedness is unprepared for emergencies, a Senate committee
On top of that, Health Canada has stashed emergency supplies
across the country, but won't tell municipal officials where they
are. They even moved one stash when a city disaster official found
Sen. Colin Kenny, chairman of the committee on national security
and defence, said Canadians should be "mad as hell" about the
fact that the country isn't ready to handle a terrorist attack or
Wednesday's report came a day after Auditor General Sheila
Fraser said gaps in security measures could leave the country
vulnerable to a terrorist strike.
Kenny recounted a list of failures that weaken the country's
defences against catastrophe:
- Federal agencies don't communicate with their provincial
- Money earmarked to bolster municipal resources is siphoned
away for provincial needs.
- Health Canada jealously guards its emergency gear.
The scathing report said the Office of Critical Infrastructure
Protection and Emergency Preparedness, supposedly the point agency
for federal disaster response, is little more than a shell.
Few municipalities - who would have to respond first to any
disaster - know about the office, which is known by the unwieldy
acronym OCIPEP. Those who do know about it say it's doing a bad
Kenny said he doesn't really know what the office does: "They
seem to liaise a great deal with people. They have some brochures.
They might have had a conference."
The report ridiculed Health Canada for its protectiveness about
emergency supplies. The department has $330 million in medicine and
equipment scattered in secret caches across the country.
While those are supposed to be for emergencies, two thirds of
the 86 cities which responded to a committee survey had no idea
where the caches are or what they contain.
One municipal disaster official from Medicine Hat, Alta., told
the senators he found one of the caches by accident and Health
Canada promptly demanded that he return the key.
He later heard that the department moved the stash.
"The message from Health Canada was made clear: hands off, it
is none of the community's business and do not concern yourselves
with any aspect of the cache," he told the committee.
The report, more than two years in preparation, said the country
is unprepared for major disasters because police, firefighters and
other front-line workers are often ill-equipped and under-funded
and no one listens to them.
Those "first responders" are hamstrung by bureaucratic red
tape and jurisdictional tussles.
The report said bigger cities are better prepared than smaller
ones. But even there, only half of big municipalities said they are
prepared for a major disaster.
Many cities and towns said they would have problems in a
disaster because police, firefighters and ambulances can't
communicate with each other because they use different equipment.
The senators said a terror attack using germs or viruses would
be deadly because Health Canada is unprepared to deal with five of
the six most likely diseases. Vaccines exist for such killers as
anthrax, plague and smallpox, but Canada only has a plan to deal
with the last.
The report urged the federal government to strengthen its
emergency systems, cut through red tape, co-operate with the
provinces to put emergency plans and gear in place and give OCIPEP
the legislative muscle to co-ordinate emergency responses.
"When it comes to man-made or natural crises, Canada has a
history of muddling through," the senators said.
"In a world that has become much more unpredictable, in which
nature has become more capricious and man-made threats have become
far more likely and far more ambient, muddling is not enough."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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04-01-2004, 06:26 PM #2
We'll I think there is certainly a little truth in this, but at the end of the day, we successfully survive natural disasters every year in Canada, and we haven't collapsed yet.
We came through the fire season last year, the power outage in Ontario and PQ, the hurricane in the maritimes, the ice storm in the east, the flooding in Quebec, the snow in Toronto ( ), etc, etc, etc.
Maybe you could argue that these incidents could have been handled a little better, but I didn't hear that many complaints. Sure we don't know our capabilities on the terrorist issue, but we haven't had much experience in that area to test it either.
One of my new side jobs is as a Deputy Emergency Coordinator for our region, and I know the money and training are tight, but every time something comes up we have pulled together and get through it quite effectively. Regardless of how much money you sink into this, you will always face challenges. It is just as important to have a good team with the authority to think and act on thier feet, as it is to have some shiny crisp 1000 page manuals on the bookshelf.
And I chuckle at the comments about how Health Canada is hiding their emergency caches. I would expect this to happen. Pre-Y2K, we opened up our companies emergency caches to the low level departments around the resort to speed distribution in the event the threat proved real, and we lost everything. It was like opening up the paper supplies room in an office building. I am STILL rebuilding this stock today, and needless to say, once again only the top level emergency personnel can get to it.
04-01-2004, 08:40 PM #3
- Join Date
- Feb 2003
- Canada's North
Being from the nation's capital, I have seen first hand how poorly the Federal system is (isn't) working.
Yes, we did survive the ice storm and the blackout (even after all of that we have no dedicated power backup up in any of the "original" City of Ottawa fire halls.) But these are local issues.
However, one would think that the Fed's would provide some funding for training the local fire service to protect them from the unthinkable.
So it can't happen here you say...
Well, over the past 40 years we have had bridges and buildings collapse, bombs set off in the basement of Parliament and a DND office building, a Turkish military attache assasinated, another paralysed and the Turkish Embassy attacked by Armenian dissidents, not to mention the numerous other "nutbars" who attacked other embassy/consulates and parked their buses, cars, jeeps on the front lawn or doorstep of the Parliament Buildings with assorted flammables on board. Did I mention the FLQ?
It's not a matter of if something will happen here but when.
Is it just coincedence that the RCMP arrested an Ottawa man this week who is associated with the group in England that was also busted this week with half a ton of ammonium nitrate? I don't think so...
04-01-2004, 09:02 PM #4
I browsed through an article in the newspaper a few days ago that opened my eyes a little. It was a well written piece on how the terrorist bombings in Spain led to the popular vote going against the Pro-American government, and in turn led to Spain pulling its troops out of Iraq.
It further went onto list how a similar, coordinated, mass terror attach could in fact happen Canada during our up-coming election. (the article actually stated that the threat of a terrorist attack would be greatly increased the closer and closer an election got).
Subsequent articles in other papers, and on other websites went on to list how our cities are unsafe, and how some locations (like the Sky Train in Vancouver) are even more vulnerable to an attack than all of the train stations bombed in Spain.
It made me think about what would happen around here, in Victoria, if something like this were to happen (though, I think Vancouver would be a more tempting target than Victoria because of Vancouver's economical importance and larger population).
Further to the original post, I have heard rumors about the government having "stashes" of supplies around the country that it doesn't want anyone to know about. And while I can see the reason they want to keep their locations guarded, I would also feel more comfortable knowing that relief supplies are not that far away for when the time comes."No one ever called the Fire Department for doing something smart..."
04-02-2004, 07:44 PM #5
Scary, but should we really be handing these idiots good ideas like that?A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall
04-12-2004, 10:21 PM #6
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
I'm sorry, but Bin Laddin and his kind have nothing on mother nature when it comes to unleashing destruction. Most of the events the authorities plan for involve a rapid response by the authorities and whatever resourses are needed are readily available. The worst case senario that could impact Canada is the sub-duction earthquake that will strike the west coast along the Cascadian Subduction zone. We have not a hope in hell of being able to deal with that and unfortunately, our most potent resource, the American military, will be diverted to Seattle to try to aide in their catastrophy (from the same earthquake). I see no evidence that the Canadian Federal Government or the Province or even the municipalities are paying more than lip service to this eventuallity. The nearest canadian military resource that could provide token aide is based in Edmonton and with no heavy air-lift capability, we will be relying on the rail system to deliver any military equipment that might be available to assist. I could rant for days about the short commings on our preparedness efforts for the real emergencies that will take the authorities out of the equation and turn them into victims like the rest of the population, incapable of responding.
04-14-2004, 07:13 PM #7
- Join Date
- Feb 2003
- Canada's North
Actually, the Navy's Pacific Naval Construction Troop in Esquimalt is US&R trained by Vancouver's CANTF-1 and is the only military force in Canada with such training at this point. One of the recommendations in the Senate Report is that the Canadian Military develop these types of capability. They (the Senate) are fully aware that there is no air transport capability left in Canada's Military.
On another note, it is interesting that last week the public road that runs under the Department of National Defense HQ in Ottawa was blocked off and closed by Military Police (barricades staffed 24/7). I think they are a little nervous about making the "Top 5 List" for potential terrorist attacks. Too bad local responders have no training or equipment to assist them when something does happen like a big bomb. (The most likely threat and most succesful tactic used by terrorists in the past)
There is a decent CBRN team in town but they can only get 10-12 trained people into Level "A" Suits in the first 1/2 hour and max 20-30 overall (on a good day). Not quite enough to deal with a long term incident with the more than 100 but less than 1000 casualties that the City of Ottawa Emergency Planner said the City of Ottawa CBRN Team could deal with without help in the Senate Report. Hope nobody ever comes up with an effective way to actually spread some of that bad CBRN stuff.
05-09-2004, 08:47 AM #8
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
Storme, CFBComox still has all its runways in tact and can accomodate any C130s that would be coming in from the garrison here in Edmonton to assist should the need arise, and if Im not mistaken CFB Esquimalt also has runways for cargo planes to land on, I dont think you need to worry about relying on railways to provide assistance in the event of a natural disaster.
05-10-2004, 07:54 PM #9
- Join Date
- Feb 2003
- Canada's North
I hate to constantly be the bearer of bad news but there are a few flaws in your and Firestorme's theories.
First for Firestorme, if there were a major west coast 'quake there won't be any rail system left to count on. I suspect most of the CP/CN lines through the Fraser would end up in the river and whatever didn't nearer the coast would be wiped out by the post quake tsunami.
As for your idea of CC-130's coming in from Edmonton, they are few and far between these days. The Canadian Forces only have 32 on the books of which almost 2/3's are out of service at any given time for overhaul & repair. 3 Squadrons that fly the CC-130's are also tasked with Search & Rescue duty. For example, only 1 of the 4 CC-130's assigned to the Squadron in Greenwood NS is tasked with air transport. 5 of the 8 stationed in Winnipeg are dedicated to air- to-air refueling for th CF-18's Also there are no CC-130's stationed further west than Winnipeg.
I suspect it would take a minimum of 24- 48 hours to begin to move any substantial military resources to the west coast from inland locations.
That is, if there are any runways left undamaged and still above water from a major earthquake. Both CFB Comox and CFB Esquimalt would likely suffer catastopic damage from a major 'quake.
Anybody inerested in some future oceanfront property in Kamloops....
05-11-2004, 05:22 AM #10
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
Yeah I know where they keep their birds, 17wing (winterpeg), 8wing Trenton and 14wing Greenwood. The thing is anything that comes outta the east stops either in here or Moosejaw Saskatchewan...and more aptly if they are pickin up people and equipment for deployment Edmonton Garrison, unless they stop in Wainwright at the grunt base there being as its the training facility in western Canada. And in the event of needing to scramble they would likely be haulin supreme butt from Trenton to Edmonton in less than 24 hours its only a 5 hour hop roughly between both bases.
They moved real fast a couple of times in the past like at PineLake (a rescue and mostly recovery mission) and the wildland fires to evac civillians as well as the icestorms. The only forseeable problem in my mind would be the fact that the troops are stretched to their limit on deployments overseas, so finding people could be tough, if need be they could call up reserves.
Now as for the runways being damaged, if push come to shove they got both Labs sittin in Comox ( 1 helo) and Cormorants ( guesstimate 4 helos), and Im fairly certain that both of those helos are able to provide some sort of assistance should there be anything left bobbing above the waterline in event of a massive quake, if not they can choose any of 16 ships stationed at Esquimalt (if they are not at sea like 5 are now) to start circling around the area for pickup.
By the way... are you 651 trade?
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