An open meeting of Sarnia Emergency Management was held Friday, December 17, at the Sarnia Police Services building. Tyler Kula of The Observer was present for a portion of this meeting and a report he produced was featured in your newspaper.
The City of Sarnia Community Emergency Management Coordinator made his presentation on the status of his office during this meeting. He often quoted a survey that highlighted the progress of city planning as regards awareness of citizens as to what to do in the event of a chemical emergency. He referred to a Stats-Can survey as evidence of success in city planning. There are a number of reasons why his broadcasting of this information is misleading.
Firstly, there is no official Stats-Can survey. The survey he refers to was a training exercise of the Survey Skills Development Course of Stats-Canada. The following is the disclaimer of the student report:
SARNIA EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS SURVEY
This report is the final product of a training program and is not an official publication of Statistics Canada.
As part of this training program a survey was designed and interviews were conducted by employees of Statistics Canada. The procedures used, and the questions asked, do not necessarily conform to the standards set by Statistics Canada for its household surveys. For this reason the data and analysis presented should be treated with caution.
Also, the results of the survey were not evidence of any success in community awareness and planning in the event of a chemical disaster. I would suggest that upon review of the document, the numbers conclusively show that this city is not aware and prepared for a chemical emergency. The report shows on nearly every page that the information collected is to be treated with caution; in fact, even the most ‘accurate’ information has a possibility of 16.5% error, while much of the information is recommended suppressed entirely.
Finally, when the media, including your publication, report information such as this, without verification, it provides a false sense of security in the safety apparatus this city has provided to its citizens in the event of a chemical emergency. I ask that you consider correcting your original story that so clearly highlighted the City of Sarnia Community Emergency Management Coordinator’s faith in the above mentioned survey, which he admitted was not valid when confronted about the validity of the survey at the recent meeting, and to further consider writing a story that might focus on the actual preparedness of citizens in this community for a chemical emergency.
Zak Nicholls, Member S.H.A.M.E.
Sarnia’s Hometown Activist Movement Emerging