By Catherine Kenny, DEMSA Academic Liaison

The next cohort of emergency managers had an opportunity to get their feet wet earlier this month.

On March 12 and 13, 21 professionals and students—both undergraduate and graduate—from emergency management programs at Sheridan College and York University successfully completed IMS 200: Basic Incident Management System. The event was a joint effort offered by OAEM and the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association (DEMSA) from York University.

“The course was a great initiative and success,” said DEMSA Chair Zalma Sahar. “We received a lot of positive feedback from all of the students. We’re hoping to have more certification courses like this available at YorkU to better equip our students to become great emergency managers in the field.”

Led by OAEM Vice President Mike O’Brien and York University MDEM graduate, Magda Sulzycki, participants were introduced to the process of commanding a simple incident, while learning about and implementing the key principles of IMS. Participants acted as the operations section within the IMS structure and worked through a case study based on a real incident, applying their knowledge through the creation of an Incident Action Plan.

Focusing on the response phase of an ever-changing incident, students were asked to prioritize response outcomes and allocate limited resources to achieve their goals. The hands-on experience this workshop provides introduced students to challenges they would likely face as professional emergency managers and useful tools for overcoming such challenges.

The event also allowed emergency management students of different institutions to network, learn with each other, and learn from one another. For students, the opportunity to learn from Mr. O’Brien and Ms. Sulzycki was particularly invaluable, given the facilitators’ combined years of professional and academic emergency management experience.

Both facilitators used anecdotes from their professional experiences to illuminate concepts and problems posed by the case study. DEMSA Chair Zalma Sahar says that certification courses like IMS 200 are imperative for emergency management students to understand how the concepts and theories they learn in school operate in the “real” world.

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