WENTWORTH CREEK, N.S. — Angela Henhoeffer longed to breathe Nova Scotia’s crisp, clean air again, and to kayak on the province’s majestic waterways.
Although kayaking will have to wait until warmer weather, she’s found a way back to her home province and is looking forward to making a positive impact in Hants County.
Henhoeffer recently signed on to be the new Regional Emergency Management Organization (REMO) co-ordinator for West Hants and Windsor.
“I’m originally from Ontario, but (spent) 17 years in Nova Scotia so I consider it home,” said Henhoeffer, who has been in the role since Dec. 11, 2018.
Prior to moving to Nova Scotia, she was in Fort McMurray helping with the wildfire recovery efforts. In 2016, she started out as the Red Cross operations manager and then worked for the municipality on the recovery task force. Following that, she worked for the Alberta Emergency Management Association, and finally, in a permanent position in Fort McMurray in emergency management as the training and exercises co-ordinator.
Henhoeffer said it’s refreshing to come to an area where there is a strong understanding of emergency preparedness.
“I’m really happy to be here. I think that the conversations that I’ve had with all of the people have been amazing. I’ve been really impressed with the amount of information that people are aware of for emergency management. That’s not always something that’s come across in Alberta, in my experience,” she said.
“To have that has been really interesting. The conversations become really fruitful.”
While she hopes to host a training exercise later in the year, she said her first priority involves the pending amalgamation of the two municipal units and how that pertains to emergency planning.
In the coming months, she hopes to get more familiar with the Hants region and promote the importance of planning ahead for emergencies.
“From an emergency management perspective, there’s always the three steps to emergency preparedness: know the risks, make a plan and get a kit,” she said.
“The best way to recover from a disaster or an emergency is to have insurance. That’s often one of the pieces that is missing, I think, and I’ve really seen a lot of that when I was working in Fort McMurray. People either didn’t have insurance or they were under-insured so when they went to recover, they had a lot of challenges because they didn’t have that accessible to them.”
Henhoeffer said people need to realize disaster planning is key.
“Disasters are starting to occur much more frequently across Canada and obviously the world. We just need to look to the south — we need to look anywhere — and they are happening,” said Henhoeffer.
“Once we can actually know what the risks are, and we can start planning for it on an individual level, we actually really can have an impact on our community.”
Paul Maynard, who serves as the REMO alternate, had been filling in as the REMO co-ordinator since the position was left vacant following the sudden death of Don Dignan last year. He says he’s looking forward to working with Henhoeffer.
“I think Angela will bring a fresh set of eyes to the REMO role. She comes from a very diverse background — tons of experience in emergency management,” said Maynard.
Maynard, who is a deputy fire chief with the Hantsport Fire Department, said he’s equally excited about how she’ll help guide the fire departments in the coming months as she is also the fire services co-ordinator.
“With the experience that we have at the table now, we’re in an excellent position to start the process of what we have been often terming ‘the regionalization of the fire service,’” said Maynard.
Henhoeffer, who will meet regularly with the fire chiefs and deputy chiefs, says she’ll be looking to bring in a consultant as they move forward with the regionalization of fire services.
“I think she wants to work closely with us and sort of facilitate — not necessarily direct — that process. She’s looking for our input,” said Maynard, noting he believes they’ll be able to create a strong regional fire service with buy-in from all departments.