Response, recovery, resilience: emergency preparedness and regional partnerships aided in train derailment north of Saskatoon
One year ago, on January 22, 2019 at approximately 9:26 in the morning, a 52-car Canadian National Railway (CN) train transporting grain product derailed across a major thoroughfare north of Saskatoon. The Saskatoon Fire Department responded with 18 different fire apparatus staffed by dozens of firefighters. Working together with neighbouring fire departments, crews worked from both sides of the derailed train to neutralize the hazard. Four news releases were issued by the Saskatoon Fire Department, the agency in command of the incident throughout its duration. The Emergency Management Organization, as part of the Saskatoon Fire Department response, responded with the mobile command unit to support the process of incident command and to coordinate response and recovery efforts.
The Emergency Management Organization (EMO) works with City of Saskatoon colleagues, community partners, government agencies, businesses, non-profit groups, first responders, and citizens to promote and strengthen emergency management and business continuity. Working collaboratively with these groups, the EMO coordinates preparedness, planning, response, and recovery with the goal of making Saskatoon a safer and more resilient community.
An incident of this magnitude is complex; no single agency or organization can respond independently to an incident as demanding as a train derailment. During the January 2019 response, 28 different agencies or organizations were involved in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts. When multiple agencies and organizations are involved, the Incident Command System (ICS) must be implemented. ICS is a standardized on-site management system designed to enable effective, efficient incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure.
This event impacted a number of municipalities, identifying the need for a regional resilience plan. The City of Saskatoon continually evaluates and improves emergency response plans, working together with partner agencies and organizations to identify the needs of large scale responses involving multiple responders.
The mobile command unit was deployed 36 times in 2019 resulting in 152 hours of activation.
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