Every year, Saskatchewan faces the possibility of emergencies stemming from both natural and human causes. Severe winter weather, wildfires, chemical spills, floods and other events remind us of the need for emergency preparedness.
Saskatchewan residents can learn how to prepare for potential emergencies by knowing the risks, making plans and preparing emergency kits.
Municipalities are the first line of defense in an emergency and are responsible under legislation to respond when events threaten the safety of people, property and the environment. Managing emergencies often involves multiple jurisdictions, levels of government, agencies and other emergency responders.
Emergency management for Municipalities/Band Councils
In Saskatchewan, municipalities must establish emergency plans by The Emergency Planning Act, 1989. The plan gives council the responsibility for the direction and control of a municipal emergency response in order to take action to implement the plan and to protect the property, health, safety and welfare of the public.
This legislation requires municipalities to:
- appoint a municipal planning committee;
- establish an Emergency Measures (Management) Organization (EMO);
- appoint an Emergency Coordinator; and
- prepare an emergency plan.
Only council or a member of council in the absence of a quorum – it is recommended it be head of council or the acting head – can officially declare a state of local emergency in a municipality and exercise the special powers the legislation confers on council. The Act protects municipal officials from personal liability for their decisions and actions provided they are acting in good faith and are not grossly negligent.
The Government of Saskatchewan can also declare an emergency through an Order-in-Council and direct municipal resources or direct one municipality to assist another during the emergency. The legislation also provides for recovering the extraordinary costs of responding to certain emergencies. A copy of The Emergency Planning Act, 1989 should be attached to a municipal emergency plan.
Government's role in emergency or disaster response
The Government of Saskatchewan contributes to the safety of its residents and to the protection of property and the environment before, during and after an emergency or a disaster.
The province helps local governments and communities build their capacity to respond to emergencies through planning, training, exercises and supporting each of the four pillars in the life cycle of an emergency:
- Mitigation – actions taken to eliminate a hazard or to reduce the probability and the effect, should the disaster occur.
- Preparedness – arrangements to ensure that if an emergency occurs the services and resources including human resources needed to cope can be efficiently mobilized.
- Response – actions taken to save lives and property during an emergency.
- Recovery – actions taken to return a community to normal or near-normal conditions.
The province also provides support and advice to local officials during an emergency event. Depending on the magnitude of an event, other levels of government may be requested to assist.
Provincial resources become involved at the point where local capacity is not sufficient to provide an adequate response and the jurisdiction has declared a Local State of Emergency. This response may include opening the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to provide a central point to co-ordinate the operational response of provincial government ministries, agencies and Crown corporations.
Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)
When emergencies begin to escalate beyond the capacity of a local jurisdiction or in a number of jurisdictions, the EOC may be activated – depending on level of the incident(s). It remains operational 24 hours a day during an emergency.
The EOC becomes "one voice" for those communities needing help. This is accomplished by using an incident command system, which brings together ministries, agencies and organizations and helps them work together to aid those who have requested assistance and to co-ordinate response and resources.
Single Engine Aircraft Tanker program
The Single Engine Aircraft Tanker (SEAT) program was launched by the provincial government in 2018 and is managed with assistance from the Saskatchewan Aerial Applicators Association. The program facilitates local municipalities to arrange for third-party aerial applicator planes to respond to grass fires and wildfire situations in the southern areas of the province.
If a local fire department wishes to hire a SEAT plane, they should contact the Provincial Emergency Communications Centre (PECC) by:
- phone at 306-953-4284, or
- radio via the Provincial Public Safety Telecommunications Network (PPSTN).
Please follow proper radio procedure and discipline as this frequency is shared with other public safety responders.
The SEAT program is primarily for use in central and southern Saskatchewan during grass fires and wildfires to assist local firefighting services, which is typically a local municipality's responsibility. The Ministry of Environment aircraft will still be used to fight wildfires on forested provincial Crown land, primarily in northern Saskatchewan.
If you are interested in SEAT training or more details about the dispatch process, call 306-280-3079 or email firstname.lastname@example.org