The average passerby might have mistaken it to be a serious incident.
Chants from angry actors from Lethbridge College were all the more convincing, as first responders were out in full force for a training exercise Tuesday evening.
Special departments from both the Lethbridge Police Service and fire and EMS had all hands-on deck as part of the mock scenario.
LPS critical incident sergeant Denton Michelson said the exercise is important for learning to deal with both peaceful and hostile crowds.
“We know that when incidents happen, we have to work as a team in order to solve the issues,” said Michelson. “We always want to train that, so when the real call comes in we’re able to respond.”
The exercise took place outside the Lethbridge Provincial Courthouse, which has seen large crowds in recent years.
More large crowds are expected outside the Lethbridge courthouse in the coming months, with multiple appearances and trials scheduled for people charged in the Coutts border blockade.
Luke Palmer, emergency planning and risk supervisor with the City of Lethbridge, said having plans in place to ensure safe and appropriate enforcement during such situations is key.
“It’s a collective approach — we bring in a lot of people to make sure that we are adequately addressing everything that we want to test,” Palmer said.
“This was about a year in the making and five different meetings with our planning team, so very collaborative just to make sure we’re including everybody and including all those gaps they might have.”
While the snowy weather was less than ideal, Palmer said it was still a very successful evening.
“It was a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, it’s now where we take the learning opportunities, and we improve those for future needs.”
Palmer said now all involved will analyze how things went and determine what shortfalls need to be addressed.
“We find out exactly where we have our gaps, and we make sure that we’re rectifying those going forward just to make sure we’re maintaining public safety.”
A formal debrief with stakeholders will take place in the coming months with a full ‘after action’ report to be released at the end of the year.
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