Making sure everyone is ready

Andrew Wagstaff
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Emergency preparedness includes your neighbours

You might be prepared to live 72 hours in an emergency situation, but is your neighbour? What about the neighbour who is elderly, disabled or has special needs?

Mike Johnson is working with the Red Cross and the Municipality of Cumberland County on the EnRiCH program, aimed at preparing vulnerable members of the population for emergencies, with particular focus on Cumberland County’s coastal areas.

AMHERST – These questions are driving EnRiCH ((Enhancing Resilience and Capacity for Health), a program of the Red Cross and the Municipality of Cumberland County now under the direction of retired RCMP officer Mike Johnson.

“With some of us, if there’s an emergency, we walk out and jump in our car and drive away from it,” said Johnson. “We can start a generator, and do all kinds of things, but the vulnerable people in our communities have a more difficult time.”

These vulnerable people, which could include the elderly, the physically disabled, hearing or vision impaired, etc., also need to be prepared for that 72-hour period, as do their caregivers, he explained.

The urgency in this part of the province is Cumberland County’s proximity to the coastline, as it borders both the Minas Basin and the Northumberland Strait. With the impacts of climate change are seeing rising sea levels, increases in storms and the intensity of these storms.

“These storms and the rising seawater are going to affect coastal areas first, and the heaviest,” said Johnson. “Consequently, this program is targeting those areas.”

A month into his six-month term, Johnson is focusing on the area between Port Greville and Apple River, with plans to then get to the area between Tidnish, Pugwash and Malagash. He is working to establish a framework of communication between the emergency first responders in these areas and the vulnerable residents and their caregivers.

Through meetings, information sessions and presentations, his goal is to prepare these people for worst-case scenarios.

“The message is to be prepared for 72 hours,” he said. “If there is going to be a severe storm with power outages, there may be people on specialized equipment. If there is flooding, they may have to be evacuated.

“It’s about how to communicate with these people,” he continued. “It’s about how to move special equipment. It’s sitting down with those people and preparing documentation so, if an emergency responder is coming into that situation, preparations are in place.”

The Red Cross has plenty of helpful information and ideas to share, and he hopes to reach as many people as possible. Emergency preparation kits are also available.

Those groups interested in a presentation can contact Mike Johnson at 667-8798.

Twitter: @ADNandrew


Organizations: Red Cross, RCMP

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Port Greville, Apple River

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