Dear Colleagues,

These last few months have been trying times for Ontarians and those around the world, as COVID-19 spread across the globe, and continues to do so, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. This pandemic is putting the very talented individuals and teams of the Ontario Emergency Management community into challenging situations, while testing your capacity, your resilience, and your skill. Emergency management and business continuity professionals across all levels of government, sectors, and the provincial ministries have sprung into action and have taken these challenges head on. We are very proud to be working alongside such hardworking individuals who are passionate about community safety.

You are working long and unforgiving hours in an event that is ever evolving. For some of you, this means pulling out contingency and business continuity plans, updating contact lists, and putting in alternative work arrangements. For others, it means activating your Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) and working to support your stakeholders, partners, friends and communities. Many of you work in the health sector and are under particular strain. We see you and we are here to support you however you need. The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) will be launching a platform to assist with connecting EM/BC professionals to individuals and resources as needed during this time.

We want to remind everyone in our community to find time to take care of yourselves and your colleagues, both physically and mentally. Many of you know the importance of health and well-being, especially during emergencies, but sometimes we all need a gentle reminder as we get so caught up in managing situations. Take time to connect socially (while practicing self-isolation/social distancing) – call/video chat with family/friends, find a moment to feel gratitude, be sure to give yourself (and colleagues) the positive feedback you deserve, get adequate sleep (as is possible), continue to eat a balanced diet and get physical activity. Please feel free to visit OAEM’s mental health webpage to access resources for your staff.

Thank you to all of the emergency management and business continuity professionals working behind the scenes with your respective teams in the EOCs. We would also like to thank all the frontline staff providing care to those in need, and thank those responsible for ensuring essential services continue to be provided during this time.

Stay safe and best wishes, on behalf of the OAEM Board of Directors,

Katie Subbotina, President OAEM                                                                                                                       Nicole Pinto, Vice President OAEM

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