You can't schedule for a terrorist attack, but CEMA chief says Calgary well-positioned if anything happens

You can't schedule for a terrorist attack, but CEMA chief says Calgary well-positioned if anything happens

Calgary's emergency response chief says that while you can't schedule for an emergency like a terrorist attack, communications is critical to a response and Calgary is well-positioned.

"We have a litany of things that present challenges, but I can say with some confidence, is that if I was going to have a problem, let me have it in Calgary because we have some of the best responders and they are trained," Tom Sampson told The Homestretch on Thursday.

Sampson is the Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief. He says responders work closely together and shifting resources on the fly can be the best response in events like terrorist attacks.

"We know that we can't staff for those kinds of events but you can have a co-ordination of your existing resources and the capacity to leverage other resources in the event that something happens," Sampson said.

"We will bring in resources from wherever we need to, however we need to."

'Can't prevent all things'

Some of the changes in emergency response, like some of the preventative measures you might see at the Calgary Stampede, involve adjusting resources.

"You will see different levels of barricades and vehicles as barriers between pedestrians and other vehicles. You will see an increased presence of staff focused on what might come from outside the event and what's occurring inside the event," he said.

"We can't prevent all things from happening but where we can take reasonable measures, we are going to do that, and without it looking like a demilitarized zone with heavy trucks blocking every intersection."

'Water is the new fire'

Sampson adds, however, that weather events as disasters are way more common that terrorist attacks.

"In 2018, it's the first time that the Insurance Bureau of Canada has said that water is the new fire. Four of our top 10 risks are related to weather. In the last 10 years, counting the floods, we have had about $500 million in losses in Calgary per year," the chief said.

"The security threat in Calgary, in Canada has not changed. It's a medium threat. But we believe the duty to mitigate, the responsibility to ensure that Calgarians can go to events and feel somewhat safe, is upon us all."

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With files from The Homestretch