Region and Town of Milton do a joint emergency simulation exercise - what would happen if a tornado hit Milton?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 11th, 2016



This story took place in Milton but it is relevant to Burlington – what do we do in the event of an emergency?

Who takes the lead and what does each different part of the civic administration do? And where does the public fit into all this?

In 2014 when Burlington experienced an unprecedented flood there were people who were up to their knees in water and people a couple of streets away who were grilling burgers totally unaware that there was a major catastrophe taking place.

Flood Fairview plaza

The 2014 flood saw 199 mm of water dumped on part of the city over a four hour period – but it was so local that many people were not aware of what had happened until it was over.

The different public services were not immediately fully aware as to just how bad the situation was. At the time every senior civic official save one was out of town.

The flooding was so local that few people knew what was going on.

In an effort to be better prepared the Region took on the task of doing annual exercises to practice what might happen and how the municipality would respond.


Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr and Halton CAO Jane MacCaskill review the tornado’s path.

On November 9, 2016, Halton Region and the Town of Milton staged a joint emergency exercise to evaluate their respective emergency response plans. The exercise included response and recovery activities related to a fictional tornado that damaged homes, businesses and community infrastructure in Milton.


Halton Region Paramedic Services Superintendent Tom Stirling oversees EMS support for affected residents.

“Testing our emergency preparedness strategies helps ensure that we are ready to respond,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “We work with local partners to minimize the risks, coordinate response efforts and reduce the impact of emergency situations. By training, rehearsing and preparing together, we improve our ability to keep residents safe and increase the resilience of our entire community.”

The exercise engaged Town and Regional staff, as well as representatives from the Halton Regional Police Service, Halton Paramedic Services, Burlington Fire Department and Milton Fire Department. This collaboration provided a realistic image of how community agencies would work together in the event of a real emergency.

“We know the potential for weather-related emergencies is very real and it is important that we come together with local partners to practice our response,” said Milton Mayor Gord Krantz. “This emergency exercise serves as a reminder that we all need to be prepared for the unexpected.”


Town of Milton CAO Bill Mann and Fire Chief Brian Ellsworth assess the tornado’s impact.

Exercise “Vortex” activated a wide range of resources and procedures established by the Region and Town to address emergency situations. Participants coordinated search and rescue, evacuation, temporary shelter and service restoration, directing simulated response workers to support residents affected by the tornado. Staff from all agencies identified strengths, challenges and areas for improvement immediately following the simulation.

Halton’s annual exercises simulate severe weather events and significant crises that could occur based on the community’s environmental features and hazards. Emergencies can happen anytime, and emergency preparedness is a joint responsibility—the Region reminds residents to plan today so they are protected tomorrow.

What the really disturbs the Gazette is that, to the best of our knowledge there was no media involved in this exercise.


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3 comments to Region and Town of Milton do a joint emergency simulation exercise – what would happen if a tornado hit Milton?

  • I'm alright now

    That is precisely correct Mr. Ryan, all the streets feeding the 400 series were left to be a total freak show with commuters ripping through residential areas.
    If I was to bet I would put money on the fact you have neither children nor aged charges in your house.
    I would further venture that you probably think all those big scary trucks pull empty trailers around all day long and that milk does in fact come from the supermarket not cows.

  • Mark Ryan

    Get your facts straight. The region and the municipalities do not control the 400 series highways,it’s the province through MTO that does. Traffic jams are first world problems and if you don’t like them take the train.

  • I'm alright now

    Well the region and local municipalities seem to have time to do these things.
    However they seem absolutely unprepared for traffic accident and fatality on the 403/QEW combination, which we were told was addressed after a dump truck took out the northbound Skyway bridge a few years ago.
    On basis of last weeks performance I would suggest that they are challenged to solve today’s Crossword puzzle.
    1.5 hours to cross 20 kilometers is unacceptable. No co-ordination, no diversion and absolutely no guidance on what is perhaps the busiest and most important artery for commuters and commerce.

    If the Skyway was taken out again the only response would be to go around the bay for x-days until solved how about a flexible lane and speed lighting system across these bridges that could be automatically set in case of such an emergency, not unlike what they have on International bridges in and out of the country.