Town of Okotoks staff and emergency services spent the day learning about emergency management yesterday, Jan. 17.

The town, in partnership with Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) hosted an all day conference called New Reality: Emergency Management for Special Events.

The event included presentations surrounding emergency response and planning from the Edmonton Police service, who dealt with a terrorist attack in October, as well members of the Ottawa Police service.

Dr. Satyamoorthy Kabilan, who facilitated the event, leads a team that covers National Security, Emergency Management, Cyber Security as well as Strategic Foresight.

He says says the biggest lesson of the day was learning to adapt in emergency situations.

"The challenge in emergency management is if you go back 20 or 30 years, it tends to be very fixed, there are fixed approaches you would take there are very rigid plans," he explains. "The reality is things are changing and evolving, whether you're talking about a terrorist threat, or a flood, the complexity of those events continues to evolve. In today's emergency management world we have to be constant, continuous learners. We have to be flexible and adaptable to the changes that are coming at us."

Around 130 participants representing municipalities throughout southern Alberta attended the conference, learning more about tools for first responders and organizers to be better prepared to handle emergency situations.

Ken Thevenot, Okotoks Fire Chief, says he's made new connections that will better the safety of Okotoks overall.

"I've created some new partnerships and colleagues that I can reach out to in the event that we want to step ours up to the next level."

Thevenot said the Town of Okotoks emergency services continues to maintain and work towards event safety and best practices.

"We've been working the last number of years since 2014 when we got an emergency command trailer, and we also got some incident command training for the boots on the ground staff. We're all using the same terminology, if we're at an event we sector things off, we've provided extra equipment like radios, high visibility vests, and we use blocker type vehicles. We've really tried to minimize any risk that we may come across at any event, and if there is an event our staff would be well trained and well versed on how to mitigate that event."

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