Committee receives report on emergency response to 2018 tornado, 2019 flood

CITY HALL – The Community and Protective Services committee (CPSC) reviewed an independent report on the city’s emergency response to the 2018 tornado and extreme flooding in the spring of 2019 during today’s (Sept. 17) committee meeting.

“Staff presented a review by an independent consultant of the city’s emergency response to the tornado in 2018 and the flood in 2019,” city staff released in a statement today. “Overall, the consultant found the city had well coordinated responses to both emergencies.”

Successes include learning from other communities; sharing information through duty officers, liaisons, scribes, runners and web applications; providing timely and accurate information to the public; managing volunteers; seeking external support early; and collecting data through geographic information system mapping.

“Following the tornado, the city formalized volunteer registration, improved community engagement, increased staff training and developed a strategy to increase operational sustainability,” staff said. “After the flood, the city developed guides for the transition and recovery phases, expanded emergency management training and improved shift-transfer protocols.”

The CPSC also received Ottawa Fire Services’ (OFS) annual report, which notes the service responded to 26,028 calls last year.

The OFS hosted 24 women in the annual Camp Female Firefighters in Training and for the first time, hired a former camp participant as a career firefighter. The service is working to build a new training facility and develop a strategy to reduce false fire alarms. 

The committee deferred receiving the Ottawa Paramedic Services’ annual report to its next meeting on Thursday, Oct. 15. 

“Off-load delays at hospital emergency rooms continue to be a challenge, so the presidents and CEOs of The Ottawa Hospital, the Queensway Carleton Hospital and the Montfort Hospital will attend the meeting to provide an update on what they are doing to resolve the issue,” staff said.

The CPSC received an annual report from Crime Prevention Ottawa, which organized public events, managed partnerships and funded research and projects. The organization assessed its gang-intervention program, Time for Change, and found it returns $3.39 for every dollar invested and reduced reoffences by participants by 55 per cent. The report also highlighted the Home Takeovers project, which has helped change local approaches to the victimization of vulnerable people in their homes.

“Property owners could soon be responsible for complying with the Smoking and Vaping By-law,” city staff said.

The committee approved extending responsibility from tenants and business owners to include property owners.

“Despite enforcement activities and fines, establishments across Ottawa continue to allow water-pipe use in enclosed public spaces,” city staff said. “This change would give bylaw officers an additional tool to enforce the bylaw.”

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to council on Wednesday, Sept. 23.