FREDERICTON (GNB) – A new service delivery approach to manage emergencies and disasters in local communities would be implemented under amendments to the Emergency 911 Act introduced in the legislative assembly today.

"We will put staff in regions who can work on the ground with entire communities to help ensure people are as safe as possible in the event of a disaster," Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Robert Trevors said. "We will harness the strengths that already exist in our communities by enhancing local expertise, local emergency response capacity, and the systems and communications of first responders."

The legislation would expand the definition of the New Brunswick 911 Service under the Emergency 911 Act from a provincewide emergency telephone service to a provincewide emergency system for the reporting of emergencies to emergency service providers; it would also provide for the co-ordination of emergency services.

Broadening the definition of the provincial 911 service would enable the establishment of regional staff to work with local authorities and emergency service providers to improve emergency preparedness and emergency service co-operation in the regions. This would include planning, training, exercises and operations.

"Empowering local communities to plan for emergencies is part of our Government Renewal process," Trevors said. “We know the value in having experts at the scene who understand the terrain and all the players involved in case of a disaster or emergency. This regional approach will help our communities be stronger and more effective."

The legislation would come into effect later this year and the establishment of regional staff would happen when the new regional service commissions are established in 2013.