Amherst joins county EMO organization

Darrell Cole
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A more co-ordinated response to emergencies

Amherst has signed a memorandum of understanding to join the county and two other towns in the Cumberland Regional Emergency Management Organization.

Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter (left) and Amherst Mayor Robert Small sign a memorandum of understanding bringing Amherst into the Cumberland Regional Emergency Management Organization.

UPPER NAPPAN – Amherst and Cumberland County are continuing to find new ways to share services.

Amherst has signed a memorandum of understanding to join the county and two other towns in the Cumberland Regional Emergency Management Organization.

“We’ve been interested in joining for a while now and we have had discussions back and forth between Jim (Hannon) and Bill (Crossman). Bill has been our EMO co-ordinator and he’s retiring in the spring. That was the impetus for us to work toward an agreement,” Amherst Mayor Robert Small said.

Small said it continued its planning process the town came to the realization there could be a human resources risk if there were a prolonged emergency that went beyond a few days.

 “We have great staff and great management to manage such an event, but if it were a prolonged one that went beyond the second or third shift we could have a human resources issue,” Small said.

At the same time, Small said, the town and the county have been looking for more ways in which to share services. It is presently in the process of hiring a consultant to conduct a study on sharing finance departments.

“It’s also accuate to say that one of council’s strategic priorities the last few years is exploring co-operative efforts in particular with the county, but also with the other municipalities,” he said. “It’s great to be able to take this step because it makes sense.”

Small said the agreement won’t impact daily operations, but will reduce risks in emergency situations.

Hannon said having Amherst on board will bring about a more co-ordinated response in times of emergency.

“Being able to work more closely with the emergency providers in Amherst gives me greater insight into their daily business and how we can better share resources when needed,” said Hannon, the regional EMO co-ordinator. “We’ve had some incidents here and because of the great response from our providers we have been able to contain things and mitigate the impact of some of those events.”

Dom Fewer, the emergency management planning officer for the central zone of the province, said emergencies don’t know geographic boundaries. He said bringing the municipalities together will benefit everyone when the unthinkable happens.

“Whether it’s in Amherst, Springhill, Oxford or the county there’s going to be impact in all the areas. Therefore the resources will be impacted at the same time,” Fewer said. “What this agreement does is streamlines some of the processes to allow for the sharing of resources. It allows us to set priorities on a countywide basis understanding each unit has their own priorities and will have to deal with those priorities on their own.”

Fewer said the agreement makes the entire county one unit for the purpose of dealing with emergencies.

The regional organization was created in 2006 among the Municipality of Cumberland, Springhill and Oxford to unify training and planning for emergencies and to co-ordinate the response to any disasters.

“It also created a more streamlined process for dealing with the province’s emergency management office,” Hannon said.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: EMO organization, Cumberland Regional Emergency Management Organization

Geographic location: Amherst, Cumberland County, Oxford

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