Village of McAdam encouraging residents to sign-up for new emergency response system

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MCADAM – The Village of McAdam is taking a cue from St. Stephen, Blacks Harbour, and other parts of Charlotte County and is setting up an emergency response system, with the help of Sentinel Systems Ltd. Deputy Mayor Taylor Gallant said he was approached by a concerned citizen following the deadly shooting in Nova Scotia last year.

“Unfortunately, what brought it out was the shooting in Nova Scotia,” said Gallant. “A citizen asked me, ‘what would McAdam do if we had a disaster or something of that nature that citizens need to be aware of ASAP’. So, I started investigating a bit with council and the Mayor, and we found this emergency alert system. I think it’s the same system that St. Stephen uses.”

Gallant said council is currently in the process of collecting information from residents. They can opt in and provide their contact information. This system will give citizens the choice to be contacted by land line phone, cell phone, email, or text message when there is an emergency of any sort. Gallant said he hopes it is something they will never need to use, but in the event that it is necessary, they will have the system in place. This system can be used for anything from informing residents about emergencies to informing them about other issues in the community.

“It may not be a life or death situation,” said Gallant. “Several years ago, we had a boil order for our municipal water. What we did in that case is we put it on Facebook, and also, the fire department was going door-to-door, passing out information letting citizens know that they couldn’t drink the water, that they’d have to boil the water before consuming it. Even in a case like that, where it may not necessarily be life or death, but it’s more like a safety precaution, we can send that out for citizens as well.”

At the moment, there are about 200 households that have provided their contact information for the emergency response system, which is about half of the households in McAdam. Sign-up forms have been put in the Lions Club community newletter, and residents are asked to provide their addresses, telephone number, and/or email address. Gallant feels this is a better way to alert the community about situations rather than relying on social media for answers. He said while social media is a great way to get information, it can also be detrimental when people are getting the wrong information.

“Response has been good,” said Gallant. “There’s been a lot of support for it. One of the reasons why I feel it’s important is social media can be very helpful, but it can also be a hindrance of information. In the case of an emergency, this is one way that folks can hear right from the horse’s mouth what they need to do in an emergency situation. Sometimes on Facebook, something can be shared hundreds of times before somebody finds out it’s not even true. This is one way to make sure that information is correct and gets to everybody on time.”

The new emergency response system will cost around $1,500 per year to maintain, and Gallant feels it’s a great investment for the Village of McAdam.

“Hopefully we never have to use it, but if we do have to use it, it’s money well spent.”

Sentinel Systems Ltd. is a pioneer in disaster response and incident management, according to their website. The team has developed incident response solutions, and has worked police, fire, and EMO officials over the past decade to create a system ensures residents in communities all over Eastern Canada have access to information they need in order to be safe.

President and CEO Denis DesRosiers founded Sentinel Systems Ltd. In 2007, and said the product is called “Sentinel Emergency Response System”, which offers an alerting capability that is designed to help municipalities and provincial governments “prepare and respond to disasters”. Part of the package includes a public alerting feature, which DesRosiers said was of particular interest to the Mayor and Council of McAdam.

“That public alerting feature is capable of doing regular land line phone calls. It’s capable of ringing cell phones, sending emails, and sending SMS messages to the people that register for the service,” said DesRosiers.

DesRosiers, who has a background in emergency mapping, satellite detection, and web technology said he had in the past done a couple of projects with EMO, and through his work with them and some municipalities he saw that there was little going on in terms of information technology and communications technologies within various Canadian emergency response organizations.

“I wanted to make sure that we utilize the best of what’s available on line or what’s available in terms of technology to the advantage of those folks that we’re doing the important work of keeping them safe,” said DesRosiers. “Our customer base is from the Montreal region to the Maritimes. It’s not just a New Brunswick company. We’ve got the data from McAdam. We’re scheduled to do training this week with some staff there. They should be, in the next couple of weeks to a month, ready to be live and active.”

If you want to add your household to the new emergency response system, please contact the Village Office at 784-2293.

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca