Emergency responders always on alert

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The Alberta RCMP is urging residents to be ever vigilant in the wake of an attack in Edmonton Sept. 30 that seriously injured an Edmonton Police officer.

“We are always on the look out and encourage the public to report anything suspicious to their local police. Now more than ever we all have to be vigilant,” said Sgt. Jack Poitras, manager Media Relations Group, Strategic Communications “K” Division.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, has been charged with five counts of attempted murder, four counts of criminal flight causing bodily harm and one count each of dangerous driving and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, RCMP announced at a news conference at Edmonton police headquarters Oct 1.

While no terror-related charges have been laid against Sharif, RCMP said the investigation is ongoing and charges of terrorism could be laid in the future against the Edmonton man.

According to Poitras, RCMP and other local law enforcement and first responders work together to ensure these kinds of attacks are rare.

“The RCMP will continue to work collaboratively with an array of agencies, departments and community partners including the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Violence Prevention to use all available tools to prevent violent extremists from committing a terrorism offence at home or abroad,” he said.

In Airdrie, emergency responders are constantly training and doing mock simulations to be better prepared to deal with these kinds of incidents, according to Fire Chief Kevin Weinberger.

“We do training on mass casualty incidents where we will work in collaboration with RCMP and EMS and any other first responders,” he said. “We were just out in Banff doing a kind of evacuation exercise. We just had a group of people doing re-entry training in High River…. It’s on-going training that is continual.”

Weinberger said the AFD would be hosting first responders from other municipalities the week of Oct. 9 for an Incident Command 100 course, which reviews protocols so all first responders are doing things like using the same terminology in the case of an emergency.

Airdrie has an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), located at the Chinook Winds Fire Station that can be made operational as needed.

“There’s many triggers for (making the EOC operational). I would say the main trigger is – where we have to have it activated – is when we declare a local state of emergency,” Weinberger said. “The mayor would issue that.”

Poitras said RCMP has an online guide to help individuals gain a better understanding of how extremism develops and what to watch out for.

The Terrorism and Violent Extremism Awareness Guide helps readers to better understand the role of the Internet and propaganda, how to watch for the early signs of radicalization that may lead to violence and how to spot the signs of terrorist-planning activities. It also provides readers with information of where to turn if they believe they have witnessed terrorist-planning activities. It can be found online at rcmp.gc.ca/qc/pub/sn-ns/sn-ns-eng.htm

Regarding the incident in Edmonton, Poitras said, “anyone with information about this incident or any other national security information is encouraged to immediately call the police of jurisdiction or the RCMP’s National Security Information Network at 1-800-420-5805.”

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