On October 17 Alberta Support and Emergency Response Team’s
(ASERT) annual training exercise was held in Slave Lake this year.
ASERT is the environmental emergency response team whose members are deployed to respond to incidents such as spills and releases in the environment.
Communications Advisor, Environment and Parks Jamie Hanlon says the department works closely with local first responders (e.g. fire departments) on scene to ensure incidents are effectively managed in order to minimize impact to the environment.
He says the exercise brought together members of the ASERT team as well as local first responders and industry stakeholders, providing them with integrated response training opportunities.
Hanlon explains there were two practical components being offered.
The first site is the Slave Lake Fire Department; participants at this site reviewed and practiced using and installing various collection/diversion techniques including berming, diking, damming, pump around systems and inverted weirs.
The second site, Norms Walleye Camp, which included three venues, largely geared towards an understanding of ASERT’s capacities, including boat and boom deployment, conducting on site environmental assessments, sampling and delineation of wetlands and use of drones in response management.
Executive director for Alberta Environmental Parks Nick Grimshaw says they like to rotate the exercise each year. He says this is because they have regional responds across the province and it is difficult for everyone to travel long distances each year.
Grimshaw adds the Slave Lake region has a history of some environmental challenges and what the team members of ASERT are doing is learning for those experience and the people involved.
Grimshaw says the vast majority of responders involved in the training are from the northern half of the region. People also came from as far as Lethbridge for the training and are new to the organization. This is an opportunity for them to understand how ASERT works and how it is connected with other regional first responders.
Grimshaw mentions a lot of ASERT members are generalists and trained on a variety of pieces of equipment.
“We are really pleased to get the opportunity to come to Slave Lake and for the support we have received here with the fire department and with Western Canadian Spill Services(WCSS) it has been really good for us and we appreciate it.”
If anyone experiences an environmental emergency whether it be oil and gas spills, facility fires, and all other situations with an urgent impact on the environment can call 1-800-222-6514 or direct: 780-422-4505
Colourful ribbons getting hung over top of a contamination spill to protect birds and bugs from landing in the contaminated water.
ASERT members creating do-it-yourself spill containment barrier out of chicken wire and hay.