Bruce Montone

Distribution of KI pills “steady,” town may look to other methods to distribute the rest

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The first two days of the potassium iodide (KI) pills distribution went well but similar events may be needed to distribute the rest.

Over 150 households picked up their KI pills, with those households being in the “primary zone,” which is defined as being within a 16.1-kilometre radius of the Fermi II nuclear power plant. In case of a nuclear incident, residents in the primary zone would be instructed to take the pills, as those pills would help fend of the possibility of thyroid cancer for people exposed to radiation.

“It’s been going steady,” said fire chief Bruce Montone, who is also the community emergency management co-ordinator (CEMC).

The KI pills were distributed in partnership with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) May 7-8 at the Libro Centre. As part of the package people in the primary zone received, they got a box with 20 KI pills, with the three-day supply of pills being good through 2026.

There are 400 or so households in the primary zone, Montone said, so another method of getting the pills to the remaining residents will be devised. That could include door-to-door delivery or another session like what occurred May 7-8 where people can go to a location like the Libro Centre and pick them up. Montone indicated there could be a combination of methods.

“We got some people in and out quickly,” he said. “Other people had lots of questions.”

Most questions were able to be answered easily, Montone added. He emphasized that pills are only to be taken if instruction is given to take them. People were also given a booklet with information about the pills and what to do to plan for an emergency.

Jean Meloche (left) obtains her KI pills from Windsor-Essex County Health Unit officials Lori Adams and Karen Lukic.

Montone said people in Amherstburg should always have an emergency kit on hand just in case any type of emergency should occur. That includes two litres of water per person, prescription drugs, non-perishable food items, cash, a battery-operated radio and personal documentation.

Should the emergency sirens go off, people are asked to go inside and listen for instruction.

“Whatever we tell you to do, that’s what we need you to do,” he said.

Once the primary zone is taken care of with KI pills, people in the secondary zone will be planned for as locations would have to be secured in the 80-kilometre radius for people to attend to get the pills.

The first phase of the plan is about $370,000 and that is funded through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Montone also addressed the emergency notifications – or in many cases, lack thereof – to people’s cell phones last week. He acknowledged it didn’t work out well in parts of Ontario like this region and parts of Quebec and he said that reinforces his belief there is a need for two methods of notification.

Amherstburg has the “Amherstburg Alert” system and Montone believes it was a “wise decision” to implement that as that is a local solution, that would coincide with any provincial or national notification method.

“It just illustrates the importance of local capabilities,” he said.

Those wishing to sign up for “Amherstburg Alert” can do so at www.amherstburg.ca/alert or call the Amherstburg Fire Department for information at 519-736-6500.

Amherstburg Fire Department recognizes long-service and retiring members

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Fire Department bid farewell to retiring members and honoured long-serving members as well Saturday night.

The fire department’s awards night was held at the Libro Centre where they honoured Deputy Chief Lee Tome, Capt. Paul Bastien, Firefighter Mark Girard and Firefighter Chris Lucier on their retirements.

Capt. Tim Beneteau, Assistant Deputy Chief Ron Meloche and Capt. Jack Quinn were recognized for their years of service, with Beneteau and Meloche given their 25-year bars while Quinn received a 30-year medal.

Lucier was called “one of department’s greatest assets” and a “pillar at Station 2.” He was further described as someone with a quiet demeanour but a person who makes his fellow firefighters better. He is retiring after 30 years of service.

“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years,” said Lucier.

Lucier said he still remembers his first call and referred to the fire department as a “close-knit family.”

“It’s hard to walk away,” he said.

Girard was acknowledged for his dedication to the department but also his work ethic and hands-on knowledge. He retired after 35 years of service.

The Amherstburg Fire Department honoured its long serving members and retirees Saturday night. From left: Firefighter Chris Lucier, Capt. Paul Bastien, Firefighter Mark
Girard, Assistant Deputy Chief Ron Meloche, Capt. Tim Beneteau, Deputy Chief Lee Tome. Not pictured is Capt. Jack Quinn.

Girard thanked his family, all the chiefs he worked for and the firefighters he worked with over his career. He noted his wife came from a firefighting background as her father was former firefighter Harvey Deneau.

Bastien was honoured for his 45 years of service to the Amherstburg Fire Department. His fellow firefighters recognized him for his years of service and leadership dating back to the early 1970’s.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to be part of the Amherstburg Fire Department all these years,” he said.

Bastien also added he enjoyed working for the chiefs and his fellow firefighters.

Tome, whose previous stops included the Windsor Fire Service and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office before spending the last 34 months in Amherstburg, was the subject of good natured barbs from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, CAO John Miceli and his fellow firefighters.

DiCarlo recalled working on issues with Tome at the University of Windsor and referred to Tome as “relentlessly stubborn and that’s what makes us love him.” DiCarlo said there aren’t many people more competent than Tome and said Tome demonstrated his dedication and commitment during his stay in Amherstburg.

“Thank you for all you’ve done in the short time you’ve been here,” DiCarlo told Tome.

The mayor also stated during the banquet that all firefighters have adapted and persevered no matter what has been thrown at them over the past few years.

Miceli noted that “public safety is paramount” and that Tome was highly qualified when he came to town. He added that Tome has made him a better public servant.

Chief Bruce Montone presents retired Deputy Chief Lee Tome with an award containing all of Tome’s badges.

“Lee has made significant contributions,” said Miceli. “He has made Amherstburg a better place in a short period of time. You are the epitome of an exceptional public servant.”

Jason Durocher, president of the Amherstburg Professional Firefighters Association, said Tome has helped make “positive change” and that Tome rose to the challenges he faced, led by example and “worked with a smile on his face.”

Durocher commented that all of the retirements represented about 190 years of service, and added that “we’ve come a long way in 20 years” when the amalgamated Amherstburg Fire Department began.

Dave Bart, president of the volunteer firefighters association, also paid tribute to Tome, though joked “what do you give a guy that’s retired 14 times?”

Chief Bruce Montone said Tome has taken on tough assignments in his career and has shown leadership. Montone said Tome has left “an indelible mark in our lives and hearts.”

Tome was humble in giving his thanks to the room filled with active and retired firefighters, their spouses and dignitaries.

“I learned way more from you than you’ll ever get from me,” Tome told his firefighting colleagues.

Tome said local firefighters aren’t in it for the money, but do it because they are passionate about the job.

“You guys are amazing,” he said. “I’m really proud of you.”

Due to recent retirements, the Amherstburg Fire Department is a younger department now and urged the young firefighters to grow, learn and “make the retirees proud of you.”

“Thank you for making me a part of your family,” Tome told the firefighters.

Capt. Jack Quinn was recognized for his 30 years of service by Patti Hayes (from Essex MPP Taras Natyshak’s office), Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Chief Bruce Montone.

Montone also commented that in his first year as Amherstburg chief, a wide number of changes have been made. Among the long list were a new organizational chart, the new open burn bylaw under which 120 permits have been applied for thus far, progress on the nuclear emergency plan with the province for which he thanked Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, a new fireworks bylaw, completion of Ontario Fire Marshal regulations, work to better serve Boblo Island, a vehicle life-cycle plan and the purchase of two new vehicles, updating the Master Fire Plan and better training and equipment upgrades.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey also commented on the 20 years of an amalgamated department.

“That’s a tremendous achievement and I congratulate you all,” she said.

Ramsey said the Amherstburg Fire Department is “a tight knit family” and that she enjoys coming out on evenings where they are honoured. Natyshak couldn’t attend the banquet, but was represented by assistant Patti Hayes, who also paid tribute to the firefighters.

“It’s great to see their unwavering dedication to the citizens of Amherstburg,” she said.

Town, WECHU launching distribution of KI pills

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Those living within 16.1 kilometres of the Fermi II nuclear power plant will soon have an opportunity to receive their potassium iodide (KI) pills.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), the Town of Amherstburg and the Amherstburg Fire Department held a joint news conference Thursday morning where it was announced that the distribution of KI pills would begin May 7.

The 16.1-kilometre zone encompasses a small portion of Amherstburg, roughly 500 homes, primarily in the Amherst Pointe area with residents in that area either having received or due to receive a letter informing them they can get the KI pills. Boblo Island is also included in the primary zone due to the logistics of getting people off of the island in case of an emergency.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo called it an “important first step,” stating that town council has been pressing for “a long time” that Amherstburg be treated on an equal basis as compared to other Ontario municipalities with a nuclear reactor nearby.

The difference between Amherstburg and the other Ontario municipalities is that Fermi II is actually located in the United States.

DiCarlo credited town staff, including fire chief Bruce Montone, deputy chief Lee Tome and clerk Paula Parker for their work on pressing the issue with the Ontario government.

“Through their persistence, we are starting to see progress,” said DiCarlo.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), shows a box of potassium iodide (KI) pills as Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and fire chief Bruce Montone look on.

Montone urged people to have a plan in case of any emergency, not just a nuclear one, including how to get out of your home, neighbourhood or town.

“Are you ready, no matter where you live?” asked Montone. “Are you ready for any emergency that may occur?”

Specific to the KI pill distribution, people who fall within the primary zone can pick them up at the Libro Centre starting May 7-8. Those who can’t attend those dates can still get their pills later this spring or early summer with Montone stating that those who get their pills will be tracked. If there are those unable to get their KI pills, Montone suggested alternative measures will be explored including door-to-door delivery.

Should an emergency occur, Montone indicated that the siren system would be activated, that messages would be sent to the media for dissemination and the town’s “Amherstburg Alert” system would be activated. He encouraged members of the public to sign up, if they haven’t already done so, at www.amherstburg.ca/alert.

If it was a nuclear emergency, how fast the town would be impacted would depend on such things such as weather, temperature, wind and other factors. Montone said there would be six to 24-hour time period before the possibility of a release and noted most nuclear incidents are relatively minor when, and if, they do happen.

“Not every single event is going to be a catastrophic event that we see in the movies,” he said.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health with the WECHU, gives a closer look at the packages Amherstburg residents can expect when they pick up their KI pills. Those in the “primary zone,” which is those within a 16.1 kilometre radius of Fermi II, can start picking up the pills May 7 at the Libro Centre.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health with the WECHU, said the KI pills are a form of salt and, when taken prior to exposure to radiation, assists the thyroid in not absorbing radioactive material.

“It’s not a magic pill,” he said. “It just protects you from thyroid cancer.”

The province will absorb the $370,000 cost of the pills, he noted, adding that adults usually take two of the pills while adolescents take one.

Those in the secondary zone, which includes the rest of Amherstburg and is a radius of 80 km from the plant, can sign up to get the KI pills as well. The pills have rare side effects such as gastrointestinal issues and a hypersensitivity reaction.

“You have to take KI pills only when directed,” noted Ahmed. “Don’t take them unless you are directed to.”

For more information, visit www.wechu.org/KI, e-mail weki@wechu.org or call 519-258-2146 ext. 4445.

Magnitude 4.1 earthquake rumbles through town

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Where were you when the earthquake hit?

At approximately 8:01 p.m. Thursday night, an earthquake shook southwestern Ontario and southeastern Michigan with the epicentre of the quake being reported near Alma St. and Concession 5.

It was originally confirmed as a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) but has since been upgraded to a Magnitude 4.1 earthquake by Natural Resources Canada. It was felt throughout Windsor-Essex County and parts of Michigan.

The depth of the earthquake was reported at

The RTT was covering an event at General Amherst High School Thursday night when the quake hit. People in attendance questioned what the rumbling was as the floor shook but the event – a meeting on the various pathways students can take during and after high school – carried on without major interruption.

The Amherstburg Fire Department activated the “Amherstburg Alert” mass notification system later in the evening and informed residents of the situation. The update also confirmed that there was no danger from the Fermi II nuclear power plant in Monroe, Michigan.

“Amherstburg officials and Fermi Nuclear Plant have been in contact. It is confirmed that Fermi has been shut down since the last weekend and is at no risk of damage from the earthquake,” stated Amherstburg fire chief/community emergency management co-ordinator Bruce Montone in a press release.

No injuries or damage have been reported but if there are people who sustained damage, they are asked to report it to emergency officials.

Terry Hall, who lives on the top floor of an eight-storey apartment building on Dalhousie St., initially thought it was a quarry blast.

“There was a loud rumble in the building,” said Hall. “The dishes started shaking. My kitchen floor started going up and down. I was wondering what had happened.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said he was “stunned” when he learned that it was an earthquake but was pleased with the town’s response. He said he was at home when the earthquake occurred.

“I was just settling down to relax a little bit for the night and watch TV in the basement,” said DiCarlo, “and boom, it came rolling in.”

The epicentre of an April 19 earthquake was in Amherstburg. It was originally pegged as a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake but was upgrade to a Magnitude 4.1 quake. (Image from USGS website)

DiCarlo said his first impression was that of some type of explosion, such as a gas line or fuel tank. He was also reminded of what quarry blasts felt like at his home, though noted the quarry blasts were “moderate and properly done.

“It was the same sensation with a boom and some shaking,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo said he immediately contacted Montone and police chief Tim Berthiaume and while there was some initial thought it was a sonic boom, it was quickly determined it was an earthquake. He said they had to get confirmation from Canadian officials but stated there were “boots on the ground” ensuring the town’s infrastructure was fine and that there was no damage.

Another inspection of area infrastructure was scheduled for Friday.

There was no immediate danger to the public, DiCarlo added, and if there was any danger to the public, an alert would have went out quicker. They also wanted to confirm as much information as possible before relaying it to the public.

“It made no sense to say ‘we felt it too, we’ll get back to you’,” said the mayor.

DiCarlo added he was happy with the initial real-world use of the Amherstburg Alert system and they are taking feedback from the public on how it worked. Those who haven’t signed up for the alerts can do so at www.amherstburg.ca/alert. Thousands of land lines were already registered into the system but those who would like to register cell phones, e-mail addresses and fax numbers can still do so.

“Operations-wise, it went phenomenal,” said DiCarlo.

Town leadership quickly assembled at town hall and firefighters and police officers were out in the community to check for damage or any other issues.

“Communication was excellent,” said DiCarlo.

Town welcomes Paul Acton as new deputy fire chief

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg has reached back into Windsor to find its next deputy fire chief.

Paul Acton was formally introduced Monday night as the town’s new deputy chief and he will replace Lee Tome, who re-enters retirement at the end of the month. Acton brings with him over 30 years of experience in emergency services, as he started with the Windsor Police Service in 1982 before switching to the Windsor Fire Department in 1990.

In making the introduction, CAO John Miceli said Acton has experience as a training officer, assistant chief, deputy chief and in officer development.

“He has a thorough knowledge of legislation,” Miceli pointed out, adding Acton believes in safety of the firefighters and community, customer service and professionalism.

Paul Acton was welcomed Monday night as the town’s new deputy fire chief.

Acton said he still has a passion for serving and wants Amherstburg to continue to have a safe and efficient fire department. He said he has an “excellent” relationship with Chief Bruce Montone, dating back to when they worked together with the Windsor Fire Department.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work with very knowledgeable people,” he said.

Amherstburg has a lot of young members on its fire department, Acton stated, and he hopes to pass along his knowledge to those firefighters. He said there is a lot of new science and technology involved with firefighting and wants to share what he knows in order to maintain safety and efficiency.

The “issue of fire behaviour has changed drastically” over the last number of years, he said.

Despite serving in Windsor, Acton called himself a “county guy.”
“I love the area,” he said.

Acton started his new duties Monday and said he was looking forward to meeting the firefighters. He added that he also wants to help improve service delivery.