May 24, 2004

New network enhances emergency preparedness across Nova Scotia

A new network of six specially trained and equipped teams will provide better protection for Nova Scotians in the event of an emergency involving hazardous materials. The network is the result of a co-operative effort involving the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash said the initial impetus came from two provincial departments. "The Office of the Fire Marshal and the Emergency Measures Organization found that there was an opportunity to expand our capabilities," he explained.

Ernest Fage, Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act, agreed saying, "We were able to gain access to funding and, because both departments have close relationships with local emergency responders, we were able to help them develop a sustainable hazardous materials response system."

The program has seen about $600,000 worth of equipment either distributed among first responders, like police and firefighters, or pre-positioned at provincial storage facilities. First responders have also received additional training. The hazardous materials response teams are located in Halifax and Cape Breton regional municipalities, Bible Hill, Kentville, Yarmouth and Amherst.

"The idea is to ensure that the right equipment is readily accessible anywhere in Nova Scotia, and that there are properly trained people available to operate it," Fage said. Morash noted, "Our close relationship with the Nova Scotia Firefighters' School has allowed us to help them to develop the training local firefighters need to respond to these incidents."

Funding for the project was made available through the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPPP), administered through Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. The 2001 federal budget provided $10 million to help provinces and territories to enhance their response capacity. Approved projects receive 75% federal funding and 25% through provincial contribution.

The Joint Emergency Preparedness Program was established to improve Canada's ability to respond a broad range of emergencies such as spills or other incidents involving dangerous materials.

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