Jennifer Wood, the woman behind the scenes of the Grande Prairie Regional Emergency Partnership (GPREP), is being honoured by the federal government with an Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award (EMESA).
While an award ceremony was hosted in Ottawa Sept. 7, Wood remained in the region as she manages wildfire evacuees from the Northwest Territories.
Wood said the award is in the mail on its way to Grande Prairie.
Earlier in the year, she guided the response to the Dunes West Wildfire in May.
Wood has helped the region through some of its most challenging moments: Wildfires, floods, train derailments and pandemics.
“I was really honoured and humbled to have received the award,” said Wood.
“The award has my name on it, but it really does represent recognition of all the work and the commitments that the municipalities and all the staff have had towards working together to build our emergency management program.”
A media release states Wood was integral to the creation of GPREP and has served as its manager since 2009.
GPREP looks over the safety of more than 100,000 residents of five municipalities.
Wood said when emergencies strike, she is the one who co-ordinates the plans and helps local municipalities work together.
“I just really feel privileged to be to have been a part of this,” said Wood. “It's been exciting to see GPREP grow and develop the skills and resources that it has.”
A joint news release from the five-member municipalities of GPREP congratulated Wood on her work.
“The importance of strong emergency management is clear to our communities now more than ever, and this award underscores the importance of regional collaboration in addressing emergencies to keep our communities safe,” said County of Grande Prairie Deputy Reeve Peter Harris.
“Her unwavering dedication to this region is evident through her commitment to ensuring our administration, elected officials, and communities in general are well-prepared for any and all emergencies,” said Sexsmith Mayor Kate Potter.
Wembley Mayor Kelly Peterson said Wood’s “dedication is commendable.”
Beaverlodge Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Johnston extended his and town council’s congratulations to Wood.
“Her passion and leadership has elevated the level of service provided to the partner municipalities and their residents,” said Johnston.
City of Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton reminded area residents of the “massive task to coordinate staff and resources during an emergency response.”
“We are incredibly lucky to have her in our community,” she said.
The EMESA was established in 2017 and looks to recognize people and groups for exceptional service and achievement to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.
“These recipients truly embody the spirit of leadership and collaboration that is essential in emergency management,” said Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis.
“Their tireless efforts have not only safeguarded our communities but have also set an inspiring example for others to follow.”
Alberta has six EMESA recipients: the Tsuut’ina First Nation, Cheryl Bourassa, Julien Bergeron, Percy Janke, Amanda Dalton, and Wood.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News