Councillor questions town’s preparedness in the event of an emergency

 

By Karen Fallon

In an emotionally charged question period by councilor Diane Pouget, Amherstburg Fire Chief Randy Sinasac, CEMC, came under fire regarding the emergency preparedness of the town, on Monday night.

“You are sitting in the hot seat literally,” said councilor Robert Pillon, to the chief who was in council chambers to answer questions about Pouget’s notification that she was in conflict as a member of the Amherstburg Emergency Information Committee.

Two weeks earlier Pouget sought council’s help to “intervene on her behalf” regarding her exclusion from the Emergency Information Committee.

On September 14, noted Pouget at the Oct 14 meeting, she received notification that she had been removed from the EIC.

This, she believed, came following questions she had raised about the status of the committee.

However, according to a report by Acting CAO Kristina Pozar Di Paolo, Pouget was not “kicked off” the volunteer group, however she was informed that she was in a conflict situation.

“Based on the complaint the one thing that did come out that was a positive thing was that we put all different aspects of the emergency plan, the Emergency Information Center, the Emergency Operations Center, under close scrutiny,” said Sinasac.

The fire chief says that the conflict had become apparent after contacting field advisor Steve Beatty, from Emergency Management Ontario. That information was then sent to the CAO.

T  he potential liability issue that he sees regarding the conflict, says Sinasac, has become evident because of the close scrutiny given to the issue.

“I readily admit that it should have been seen ahead of time, by my predecessor and myself,” said Sinasac.

“Quite simply the councilor being in   the Emergency Information Center potentially puts the town at risk by not taking the more important role of being in the Emergency Operations Center,” said Sinasac.

According to a report by Acting CAO Kristina Pozar Di Paolo, the EIC is an Emergency Information Centre composed of volunteers that may be set up and staffed during partial and full activation of declarations of emergency.

The centre is required under the Nuclear Response Plan and is not required for any other emergency unless called upon by the CEMC, (Community Emergency Management Coordinator) notes Pozar Di Paolo.

Pouget says she was a council member for eight of the 19 years she had been a member of the EIC committee and during that time the issue of a conflict never arose.

  According to Pozar Di Paolo the EIC is neither an advisory committee nor a committee of council and as such is not controlled by council.

The volunteers on the EIC are formed under the Emergency Act.

Sinasac pointed out that as a councilor Pouget would be in conflict if she  needed to assume the role of the Mayor or Deputy Mayor, should an emergency happening while the majority of council are out of town at the time.

That being the case, questioned Pouget, if she is required to go to the EOC why hasn’t she and the other members of council been trained in this aspect of command.

“If you are saying all of us should be at the EOC, why haven’t you provided on-site training for us?” said Pouget. “I have no idea what to do in there.”

“I am not confident that this plan would work tonight if we had to go in there,” said Pouget.

“There are very, very real questions that we haven’t asked yet,” she continued.

Advice comes, says Sinasac, from the experts trained in particular fields who are called in should an emergency arise to give guidance to council.

“The mayor and members of council can not be an expert in every field,” said Sinasac. “I only facilitate the opinions to make the decisions.”

“Randy has got the responsibility; he is our fire chief. As council members we are not trained, we don’t know the rules of this,” said Pillon

“I am just surprised that council isn’t more concerned that they may be called out to the EOC and they don’t have the training needed,” said Pouget.

“That is a very unfair statement,” said councilor Robert Pillon.

Councillor John Sutton agreed: “I am confident in our leadership; I am confident in our preparedness, to suggest otherwise I think is a little callous.”

On conclusion of the discussion Mayor Wayne Hurst likened the questioning by Pouget to an “inquisition” of Sinasac.

“He is just doing his job,” said Hurst. “We have to start working together and moving on.”

During Hurst’s statement Pouget asked for a Point of Privilege:

“It’s because you do this to me each and every time, it’s bullying that is what you do and I am not going to take it.”

“I had every right as a councilor, as a taxpayer, as a mother; I had every right to question him,” said Pouget. “You always say that, or you say I am negative and it is going to stop.”

Hurst says that in the event that an emergency takes place the security of the people living here will be taken care of.”

“I don’t share that feeling,” said Pouget. “Right now I am very worried about it.

One response to “Councillor questions town’s preparedness in the event of an emergency”

  1. Robin Raymond says:

    Councillor Pouget should be the one under close scrutiny after Monday nights council meeting. She has no business in my opinion to even have a chance at running the town should the need arise. She was very disheveled and not thinking very clearly or in other words not somebody able to manage the town if the need arose. That said a conflict has presented itself to the town and our.Fire chief with the advice from the EMO made them aware of issue. Diane Pouget it seems is always for the big killer spin weave of the century thus trying hard at ruining our town departments head managers such as the Chief of Fire. Shame on you Diane ,you are making a mockery of our great town. Get back to governing this fine municipality and stop wasting our tax dollars on your personal ditch digging!!!