Stoesz recognized for emergency preparedness

Long-time Altona volunteer Bob Stoesz recently received the Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award, in honour of his hard work in prevention, preparation, response and recovery from disasters and emergencies in his community. Supplied Photo

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An Altona resident recently received national recognition for his contributions to the emergency response system in his community.
Bob Stoesz was presented with the Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale, at a ceremony held at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
The prestigious honour recognizes the hard work and achievements of Canadians in preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies and disasters.
Stoesz was nominated for the award by the Town of Altona, the Municipality of Rhineland and by Altona fire chief Greg Zimmerman.
“It’s humbling, and very awesome to be recognized in this way,” Stoesz said.
He served as a volunteer firefighter in Altona from 1979 to early 1997, nine of those years as fire chief.
He took on the role of municipal emergency coordinator for Altona and Rhineland Municipality in 1998 and held that post for the next 17 years, retiring from the position in 2015.
As emergency coordinator, he played a key role in coordinating cleanup efforts following a wind storm in 2004 that caused significant damage to property in Altona and Rhineland. Stoesz also spearheaded the establishment of a weather radio system which serves as an early warning system for residents in Altona and Rhineland.
He was also responsible for the installation of an outdoor siren system in Altona.
Looking back, he says there have been many changes in the community’s emergency response system over the years.
“For example, when I came on board, we still did EMS calls through the fire department. We did extensive training and it worked very well. This was discontinued when Manitoba Health turned that into paramedic services.”
His motto has always been “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”, and he carried out his role accordingly.
It was this commitment to creating a solid plan that made the current emergency structure work so well in the community.
“I think along with longevity, one of the reasons I was recognized in this way was that we made this community much safer through planning, setting up EOCs, and providing early warning to our citizens,” he said.
“When I look back on all the exercises we’ve done and the success stories we’ve had, I’m proud of how far we’ve come. I’ve worked with a great bunch of people, and it’s rewarding to see the whole emergency management system we began continuing to thrive and function so well today.”