Do not panic at June 21 drill

By Cecilia Nasmith

No public panic should be necessary June 21, when Cobourg's emergency-management department stages a mock emergency drill from 1 to 4 p.m.

Council heard this week that the mock emergency situation will be a missing person.

“It will involve a simulated response element and live role-playing on the Cobourg beach and waterfront,” Councillor Aaron Burchat said.

“There is no need for alarm – refrain from calling 911 if you are observing these mock exercises.”

“It will probably be our biggest endeavour to date,” Mayor John Henderson added, expressing his hope for minimal panic when the exercise goes into full force.

A subsequent press release from the town said the goal is to prepare all emergency responders in the event of such an emergency, based on one of the town's larger festival weekends – specifically, the Canada Day long weekend when the waterfront and downtown might play host to as many as 40,000 people.

“Although Cobourg is considered a somewhat quiet town most of the time, our summer season and events such as Canada Day attract thousands upon thousands of tourists,” Henderson said in the press release.

“These annual exercises help the Town of Coourg ensure that our emergency responders are prepared to handle a crisis, should one potentially emerge.”

The press release stressed that there is no need to call 911 if residents see first responders on the scene during this activity, as this ties up the system and leaves fewer lines open for real emergencies.

“Conducting these exercises in real time is a good way to validate our police processes, training, and to identify an gaps,” Cobourg Police Chief Kai Liu said in the news release.

“These exercises give us a way to continually improve on those procedures in a very real situation. It's certainly something we never want to happen, but this prepares us for all circumstances – and our commitment to Cobourg is making sure the town is safe.”

During the emergency exercise, the beach will remain open for recreational use, though residents and guests should be aware that they can expect to see emergency-simulation activities (and potentially more commotion than usual).

Cobourg emergency planner Shannon Murphy said that the town considers safety a key priority, with exercises and training playing an essential role in that focus.

“Multi-agency training allows us to test our emergency-management plan and missing-persons procedures in real time,” Murphy said.

“The mock-emergency waterfront exercise will help us prepare and refine our plans to better serve the community.”

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