Central Alberta has faced its share of disasters including tornadoes, train derailments and floods.
There is no way to know when tragedy will be repeated and that is why area first responders were so keen to receive another $160,000 in training money from the Alberta government.
Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson announced $2.6 million in funding over four years to six regions to strengthen regional emergency response.
Red Deer County director of emergency management Ric Henderson said the province has already provided $40,000 for training in this area, bringing the total investment to $200,000.
Henderson said the training, which is being co-ordinated by the county, is meant to create a core group of highly trained first responders.
“What will come out of it will be a group of highly trained individuals with enhanced training that can drop into any municipality and mentor them or assist them in time of disaster,” he said.
“The purpose is not to go in an take over from somebody. As municipalities, we have responsibility to deal with our own disasters and emergencies. This is just to be able to drop in and help people out.
“In the smaller communities they certainly don’t have the depth or the breadth (of training) to be able to do this stuff.”
The training opportunity has gone over well with more than 60 first responders volunteering to expand their skills. Besides Red Deer County, emergency responders from nearly a dozen other Central Alberta, from as large as the City of Red Deer to the Village of Delburne, have gone through a seven-day training course.
Two groups have already gone through the training with a third set to upgrade their skills in September.
Training scenarios have included a tornado, which was experienced at Pine Lake in July 2000 and cost 12 lives, and rail incidents. In February 2001, a train carrying anhydrous ammonia derailed in north Red Deer, killing one person and leading to the evacuation of thousands.
Henderson said the training fits in well with the county’s regional approach to emergency response, which led to the development of a plan involving the county, Sylvan Lake, Delburne, Elnora, Bowden, Innisfail and Penhold.