One of the key lessons demonstrated by hurricanes, blizzards, and other natural disasters in recent years is the value of emergency preparedness. And that's why the professionals on the U.S.-Canadian Emergency Preparedness Committee on Civil Transportation (EPCCT) conduct annual training events.
And during the last week of October--while many of us at DOT were preparing for Sandy--some in the EPCCT community were focused on the annual three-day emergency preparedness meeting October 24-26.
Hosted this year in Massena, NY, by DOT's Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), the annual EPCCT workshop helps maintain a close working relationship between the U.S. and Canada in supporting civil emergency preparedness and response planning activities. And this year's event was another success, with more than 35 people attending from both countries.
DOT was represented by our Emergency Coordinator's office as well as Regional Emergency Transportation Coordinators and Regional Emergency Transportation Representatives. Security and emergency response officials from our Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response also attended. Representatives from each Canadian province and various offices of Transport Canada joined the delegation from US DOT.
The first day of the workshop included a thorough tour of the SLSDC’s operational facilities in Massena.
Participants also observed a vessel transiting Snell Lock, and they rode the SLSDC’s Robinson Bay tugboat through Eisenhower Lock. It was a unique opportunity to showcase the significance of the St. Lawrence Seaway as a binational maritime thoroughfare. More importantly, it highlighted the work of SLSDC’s top-notch emergency response personnel, who keep the Seaway a safe and efficient route for maritime trade.
The final two days of the EPCCT included presentations and discussions on U.S. and Canadian “beyond the border” initiatives; comparisons of international aviation processes and procedures; and broad discussions on emergency preparedness with professionals in different types of transportation on both sides of the border.
A scenario-based discussion focused on three key priorities: examining international maritime preparedness on the St. Lawrence Seaway through the Seaway Emergency Response Plan (ERP); examining surface and bridge coordination planning at international crossings between the U.S. and Canada; and binational aviation and airspace collaboration. Each scenario closely examined shared, cross-border North American transportation infrastructure and reinforced the value of information sharing between the U.S. and Canada.
The EPCCT workshop continues to be an important and useful annual event for both DOT and Transport Canada. And this year's events further demonstrated the excellent cooperation and coordination between our two nations.
As we continue helping repair the damage from Sandy this Thanksgiving weekend, I'm grateful that emergency preparedness is a year-round effort at DOT and on both sides of the St. Lawrence Seaway.