Greg Solecki – President

Greg is the President of IAEM Canada and has recently retired after 30 years in Municipal Government. He has decades of notable experience instituting strategic emergency, continuity, and leadership programs with implementation at the field, corporate and international level. Contact: 587-581-3368, gregsolecki@sandhurstconsulting.com

 

Heather Stager – Director of IAEM Canada Professional Development

Heather is an independent, international consultant with expertise in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Heather holds a Master of Environmental Studies, is fluent in English & Spanish, and has more than 10 years of experience in the Caribbean, Latin America. In Canada, she has worked on Aboriginal resilience projects and also as part of the Red Cross Movement. Heather has been a member of IAEM Canada since 2015 and has been the Director for Membership Engagement since February 2016.

Contact: heather.stager@gmail.com

 

Jasmin Carlton – Treasurer

Jasmin holds the Professional Community and Economic Developer of Saskatchewan designation, a degree in Applied Disaster and Emergency Studies, and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Disaster & Emergency Management program at Royal Roads University. She resides in Saskatoon and below to half a dozen boards and committees that focus on community and culture.  Contact: (306) 482-7578, jasmincarlton@hotmail.com

 

Jenn Nelson – President, Canada Student Region

Jenn Nelson is a Program Coordinator at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Her portfolio covers health and safety, emergency and crisis management, first aid and business continuity. Jenn is also a Disaster Management Personal Disaster Assistance Responder and a First Responder with the Canadian Red Cross. Contact: 613-730-6280, msjennnelson@gmail.com

 

Rebecca Wade – Immediate Past President

Contact: 403-218-9568, rebeccalwade74@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Ryna Brideau-Thombs – Secretary

Ryna is the head of Emergency Management & Business resilience for EPCOR Utilities, located in Edmonton Alberta. She has 25 years of EM experience, working for two provincial EM organizations (BC, AB), and the private sector (telecommunications, utilities). She is also an Army Reserve Logistics Officer. Contact: 780-718-3116, rbrideau@epcor.com, ryna@onestepbeyond.ca

 

Scott Roberts – Vice President

Scott is the Director of Protective Services for the Town of Okotoks, Alberta where he provides leadership for all aspects of Municipal Enforcement, Fire Services and Emergency Management. In this role he is also the Senior Town liaison to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Alberta health Services and the Alberta Emergency Management Agency as the Director of Emergency Management. Scott honed his skills as a Manager of Emergency Services with the Government of Alberta, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General and a career with the Toronto Police Service spanning 31 years.

Contact: 404 938 8924, scottroberts@telus.net

 

Sean Vaisler – Director of IAEM-Canada Communications and Marketing

Sean Vaisler is an Emergency Manager with Health Emergency Management British Columbia, he is responsible for Vancouver Acute which includes Vancouver General Hospital. He received his Masters in Disaster and Emergency Management from Royal Roads University in 2016. Sean has more than more than 10 years of progressive experience in paramedicine, disaster response, emergency management, and mass gathering event, planning and risk management. Sean operated as a paramedic with the Israeli ambulance service “Magen David Adom” disaster response unit. Sean is an active Research Member with Mass Gathering Medicine Interest Group with the University of British Columbia since 2011. In 2014 Sean became a member of IAEM Canada; in in the fall of 2015 he became a committee member with the Communications and Marketing group. Sean has a passionate interest in improving upon and understanding the link between mass gatherings, pre-hospital care and the field of disaster and emergency management. Contact:  604-377-9304, seanvaisler@gmail.com

 

Sherry D. Hiriart – CEM Commissioner

Sherry D. Hiriart has twenty years of EM experience with a focus on operational Human Resources in response and training/responder development in the preparedness phase. Sherry is a graduate of University of Waterloo, Canada and holds a CEM (Emergency Management designation), CHRL (HR designation), a CTDP (Training designation). She is a Disaster Manager and is a Senior Facilitator with the Canadian Red Cross. In addition to Disaster Management, Sherry manages both an HR and Legal Department for a Property Management organization focusing on residential housing and condominium redevelopment.

 

Tom Watts – President – Alberta Region

Tracey Blaine – Director of IAEM-Canada Professional Development Committee

 

 

I recently did a test from a youtube video on multitasking or rather switchtasking as the presenter, Dave Crenshaw, calls it. The premise is that multi-tasking is a myth. Try the test yourself to understand why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCeGKxz3Q8Q

In emergency management, multitasking should not be an option. The Incident Commander should be able to concentrate on one job which is to coordinate the response to the incident. We devised the IMS system to reduce risk of multi tasking. The system creates a careful delegation of responsibilities and tasks. It creates a cycle that controls the development of key objectives, their prioritization and their resolution one at a time. It instills concepts such as chain of command so that there is filtering of decision making as we get to the top of the chain. We teach unity of command that says nobody should answer to more than one superior.

Then we get to a Fort McMurray situation where we ask the fire chief to also take care of the evacuation. As the newly submitted report shows, there were numerous issues related to coordination and communications almost all starting with the province. The greatest one in my mind was that the province left everything to one person instead of letting the fire chief coordinate the response to the fire and having someone else coordinate the evacuation. This was a costly example of how multi tasking cannot work.

In Ontario, all municipalities must have a Community Emergency Management Coordinator; a CEMC as we know it. A few of us are privileged to be in a large urban environments and we are fully dedicated to this job. In many rural or small town settings however, budgets don’t allow for the presence of a full-time CEMC. So naturally the first person to turn to is the Fire Chief. It is assumed that being a Fire Chief means you know everything about emergency management as well. Unfortunately, that is putting a load of expectations on these people that shouldn’t happen and can ultimately lead to a Fort McMurray situation.

Some municipalities have realized this and delegated the CEMC function to someone else but most of the 447 municipalities currently have a senior fire official as their CEMC. Since those people are being asked to multi task, the question is raised as to how we can help them succeed when faced with such daunting odds.

The Canadian Emergency Management College closed in 2012. It was the only Canadian institution catering to emergency management education for first responders at the time. When it closed, nothing was there initially to compensate. In Ontario, the CEMCs now have access to the BEM course, the IMS course and the CEMC courses from the province. Those are good courses and should be maintained. These courses are general and apply to anyone. What they do not consider is the multi tasking aspect of the CEMC/Fire Official combination.

So a new program at Humber College is starting up in the fall to cater directly to that need. Under the initiative of retired Brampton Fire Chief Andy MacDonald, Humber College expanded its program to cater directly to the continued education needs of Senior Fire Officials. As part of the Humber College Fire Service Executive Management Certificate and along with courses in administration, budgeting, labour relations and more, the college decided that it was time to include courses on what it means to be a CEMC when you are a fire official. Two courses were created: Emergency Management for Senior Leaders and Managing Multiple Agency Responses. The first presents the skills and knowledge required to be an effective CEMC on a day to day basis while the second looks into expanding the ICS system into an IMS structure when dealing with large-scale responses.

There are three target audiences here. The first and most important is the rural fire official that has now been tasked to play the CEMC role. A good portion of the courses aims at helping those find the right resources quickly to make the job easier. It also helps at finding ways to delegate effectively and break down tasks to ensure completion before moving on to the next.

The second audience is for the senior fire official who is in an urban community where a full-time CEMC position is filled by someone else. The goal here is to help fire officials understand how the CEMC can contribute to the role of fire and help take many of those tasks away from fire to reduce risk of multitasking on the site of a complex emergency.

The third audience is for people outside of fire services but involved in emergency management or emergency response. These can be CEMCs that are not fire officials or senior officials from other services that can benefit from understanding the role of the CEMC.

Multi tasking doesn’t work. Try this test: do the grocery shopping with a fairly standard list and time yourself. The following week go back with a similar list but bring along someone to engage in an intense discussion on the chances of the Blue Jays making the playoffs this year…or any other heated discussion you feel appropriate. Then check your time. Check also the accuracy of your purchases. Did you forget something? Did you find doing the grocery more stressful in those conditions?

Now transpose this into an emergency response situation and try to coordinate the media response, the mayor’s visit to the site, and the evacuation at the same time as doing an effective job of controlling the incident. The response time goes up, the quality goes down, and your stress level goes way up.

Hopefully the Humber program can be an option to make the job easier. (1)

My wife tells me she is good at multi tasking. She has a load of laundry going on while she does the dishes. I call it good delegation. Giving the laundry job to a machine is a form of delegation that leaves you free to concentrate on something else. You are still only concentrating on one job at a time.

Alain Normand

(1) http://www.oafc.on.ca/fire-service-executive-management-certificate-elective-courses (See FSMC022 & FSMC023)

To register, go to; http://www.oafc.on.ca/humber-college-fire-service-executive-management-certificate

Note: You don’t have to be a member of the OAFC to register for courses and you can take several course only and not the whole certificate. There are many great courses applicable to managers, not just Fire Chiefs.

Contact Dan Rowland at Dan.Rowland@humber.ca for more information on the oafc program.

It is that time of year again – We are looking for a Student Board Member!

Calling all OAEM student members,

Are you an ambitious, driven and creative individual? Do you have new ideas on how OAEM can better serve Ontario’s students and the EM community? Would you like to take on a lead role in connecting Disaster and Emergency Management students to professionals and opportunities within the DEM field? OAEM wants you!

OAEM is looking for a Student Board Member who will serve from July 2017 to June 2018. If the above appeals to you, then we would like to hear from you!

– You do need to be an Ontario-based student enrolled in a Disaster and Emergency Management Program
– You need to be a Student Member of OAEM

Please send a 250-500 word Statement of Interest and a copy of your Resume to education@oaem.ca no later than Friday June 30th, 2017.

We look forward to your applications.

**You need to be an OAEM Student Member. If you are not, please sign up here https://oaem.ca/shop/**

Good luck!

Nicole Pinto
Education Chair
OAEM Board of Directors

 

Whenever we hear the phrase “vulnerable population,” our thoughts usually go to the obvious – those people and places where we find our most defenseless: hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. When pressed, we might even consider the isolated personnel of a polar research station, an aircraft carrier at sea or even a high level research station as being vulnerable populations. However, one group of individuals who will be almost universally omitted as being “vulnerable” in a disaster are those we confine in prisons.      Whether one considers the existence of jails and prisons to be ethical or not, they are a fact of life in every country and continent on the planet, with the exception of Antarctica. According to the UN’s Disaster Management Training program, the dilemmas facing emergency assistance providers are numerous and often entail having to make choices between undesirable alternatives when dealing with vulnerable populations. How we treat this particular kind of vulnerable population can also serve to help us when confronted by other, equally difficult ethical dilemmas. When you have a tornado bearing down on both an old age home and a primary school, what is the best course of action to take? Do you tell them they are in harm’s way or not? Do you only tell one and not the other? What are the ethical implications for or against your actions? Who do you save, and why? And most importantly, how do you this ethically?

In the context of disaster, especially one which has an impact on a carcel institution, decisions made on an ethical basis may have significant and lasting impact on the communities served. Thus the questions to be asked include: Who has the authority to make such significant ethical decisions? How should ethical decisions be made? What principles and values should guide those in ethical decision making processes? And what is responsible action in response to human need?

Recognizing the basic humanity of all those who can be found within the confines of concertina wire and concrete, disaster planning for prisons is usually a fraught exercise, with “Let ‘em rot!” often being the preferred outcome. Given this (somewhat insensitive) reaction to most initiatives which involve prisons, it is easy to see how simply trying to use an “ethical approach” to disaster planning and management for prisons might be dismissed

By examining the distinct ethical approaches of Moral worth/Kantian ethics, Virtue ethics and Lifeboat ethics, I will try to highlight some of the considerations required when using a (purely) ethical approach towards disaster management for the vulnerable populations of prisons, review their validity, and make some recommendations regarding the use of such approaches to disaster planning for prisons.

MORAL WORTH/KANTIAN ETHICS

Using this approach, an emergency manager acts in a “morally worthy” way out of duty and nothing else. Once we recognize that there is a perfect duty to perform, we are to act; when we have an opportunity to perform an imperfect duty, we may choose not to. But we must be prepared to act according to the imperfect duty on other occasions.

As an example, during an emergency event a first responder with a sick spouse at home opts to stay home (family comes first). The next time, using a similar emergency scenario, instead of a spouse, it is a mother-in-law who is sick. Per Kant, the ethical requirement is that the first responder must now abide by his “family comes first” duty, even though they may not want to stay home with the mother-in-law.

When a Kantian ethical approach is used, once the duty to provide assistance is accepted at the planning stage, it is incumbent on the emergency manager to ensure that the tools needed to prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster are not only identified but allocated. Much like a dog with a bone, the duty to assist, simply as the right thing to do, must be adhered.

VIRTUE ETHICS

With Virtue (or Value) ethics, the focus is on what kind of person the EM should be, rather than on how one should act. The premise of virtue ethics is that right actions are defined according to the virtues of those who perform the actions. By tradition, virtues fall into four categories: a) virtues of the intellect (wisdom and prudence); b) virtues of the spirit (courage and fortitude); c) virtues of emotion (temperance and moderation); finally the virtues of harmony and civil order (justice). Put simply, only the good (virtuous) person can know what the good action is in any given circumstance and therefore, what virtuous people do, determines what “good” and “bad” are.

Since virtue ethicists believe that there is an inherent link between what good actions are and what the good person does, an emergency manager would find that these attributes inform all four pillars of emergency management for prisons and thus transforms the obligations of a responder from aspirational goals to ethical imperatives.

However, the practice of virtue ethics sometimes falls significantly short, as highlighted by events during Hurricane Irene, August 20 and 28, 2011. Anticipating a direct hit from Irene, emergency officials in New York City feared for the safety and well-being of those who opted to ride out the storm by remaining at home. However, emergency officials completely overlooked one significant and highly vulnerable group in their evacuation plans, namely the 12,000 inmates held at Rikers Island jail complex. This was despite the fact that Rikers Island is partially constructed on land fill, sits in the East River, a salt water tidal strait, and is vulnerable to storm surges.[1] Although Hurricane Irene did not create the kind of damage that had been anticipated, the virtue of being a “Good Shepherd” for all New Yorkers appears to have been abandoned when the “wolf” was at the door.

LIFEBOAT ETHICS

Lifeboat ethics more or less mandates that actions be governed by a zero-sum solution – the limited capacity of agents is the ultimate arbiter of who survives and who does not. Prisons are neither alone not unique when it comes to the vulnerable; old age homes, mental health facilities, homeless shelters, all become easy targets for exclusion.

During “high-consequence events”, prisons become a kind of “anti-lifeboat” or dog pound, where an already constrained capacity leaves local prison authorities to face lifeboat situations without the ability to access resources, including staff, supplies or means to relocate, if necessary.  This is the only lifeboat where everyone wants to leave but no one wants to get into the water and those in the water would rather wait for a lifeboat that may never come. Even if a few hardy souls do manage to crawl aboard, capacity is eventually overwhelmed and those in the lifeboat share the same fate as those in the water – everyone drowns.

Since any emergency plan which would call for an early release of even the most low-risk of inmates would likely be met with some form of public outrage, further complicating operational and logistical quandaries during high consequence events are the presence of life sentence/death row inmates, where the safety and security of the surrounding community, as well as other inmates and carceral staff, must be balanced against the principles of justice for all and basic human decency.  While a mass execution, as an extreme possibility, might serve to mitigate immediate public concerns about “mad dogs” in their midst, for the remaining inmates, such actions would magnify the mistrust already endemic in prisons and highlight the decision makers’ biases towards their prisoners.

CONCLUSIONS

Regardless of ethical approach, the prima facie caveat of emergency management is that helping vulnerable people in a disaster area is a non-negotiable imperative for all DEM practitioners.  However, that caveat is sorely tested when the disaster area includes a prison or other carceral institution.  Determining who are the most vulnerable and who should be the beneficiaries of prompt aid, needs to be made in such a way that all human life is preserved, insofar as it is possible to do so, while simultaneously acknowledging the “penitential” social contract that exists between the incarcerated and society in general.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In the resource-constrained setting of a high-consequence event, prisons are at particular risk for abandonment and neglect.  Already marginalized in terms of geographic location and social standing, prisons are often deliberately and explicitly deprived of those capacities which would ordinarily serve as a buffer to largely externally-driven vulnerabilities.   When it comes to emergency management for these vulnerable populations, much of the challenge that confronts emergency managers lies in the fact that they may be called upon to solve ethical dilemmas within an urgent timeframe.

Future research and discussion would be useful in exploring the intersection between the practicalities of emergency resource allocations for prisons, the risk classifications of, and threat analysis for inmates, as well as the surrounding community, and the other types of ethical philosophies which might inform decisions to do so.

[1]Fox, James. “Inmate Safety and Emergency Preparedness – Corrections.com.” Inmate Safety and Emergency Preparedness. 5 Mar. 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.

 

 

Following another highly successful Conference and Annual General Meeting, the OAEM is proud to once again donate to the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts in lieu of providing gifts to our conference speakers.

 

In 2016, the Association donated $500 on behalf of our conference speakers with the donation going to support the Canadian Red Cross as they responded to the devastating wildfire that ravaged Fort McMurray, Alberta. For 2017, our donation is meant to support the Canadian Red Cross flood relief efforts in Eastern Ontario and Quebec. This year we are proud to donate $800.

The Board of Directors would like to thank all of our speakers, sponsors, conference attendees, and of course our members, for another successful Conference and Annual General Meeting. Your continued support and dedication is what makes all of this possible!

Proud to serve Ontario’s Emergency Management Community,

Thank You.

Tim Lindsay

Engagement Director

engagement@oaem.ca

Background:

The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) Student Awards were created to showcase the upcoming talent we have within our growing emergency management community. The criteria sought after for the OAEM Student Awards are as follows: high academic excellence, volunteerism, a high level of enthusiasm and interest in emergency management field and contributions to the emergency management community.

About the Awards:

Brian Hook Memorial Award: 

This award is named after Major Brian Hook, who was a past president of OAEM. He attended Royal Roads and The Royal Military College, and served with the Royal Canadian Dragoons from 1971 to 1999. Following his retirement from the army in 1999, Major Brian Hook spent 3 years with the EMO in York Region before retiring again in 2002. He very much believed in helping students and giving back to your community, which is why we have the Brian Hook Memorial Award today.

The Brian Hook Memorial Award, which honours the memory of Major Brian Hook (CD), goes to a student who has made significant contributions to the field of Emergency Management while maintaining a high level of academic excellence. ($1,500)

A Normand Academic Award:

The award is named after Alain Normand, an author, lecturer, teacher expert in Emergency Management, and a past OAEM President. He directed relief efforts in emergencies such as the Saguenay floods, the Quebec Ice Storm, the Haiti repatriation, and the Calgary floods amongst others. He is the Emergency Manager for the City of Brampton, since 1999. Apart from being the past-President of the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM), he sits on many national, provincial and local committees. Alain Normand is the recipient of the 2010 Canadian Award for Emergency Management from the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness. He teaches emergency management and business continuity at York University and Sheridan College. Alain is also the author of a series of novels on emergency management published by Authorhouse and available at Amazon.com. Alain was involved in the coordination of the City of Brampton emergency response to the December 2013 Ice Storm; and, Fort McMurray relief operations as a Red Cross volunteer, where he was an Emergency Response Team Leader

coordinating logistical aspects of national response from the Red Cross Mississauga Headquarters.

The A. Normand Academic Award is granted to a student who has showcased an exemplary academic paper relating to emergency management and/or business continuity. ($1,000)

President’s Award: 

As an association, the OAEM Board of Directors wanted to highlighted professionals who have gone back to school to either upgrade their level of academic learning or change professions, as professionals bring with them skills and experiences that can be of great assistance within the emergency management field. Furthermore, as a volunteer association, we wanted to highlight the contributions that these professionals have made to emergency management.

The President’s Award is granted to a professional who has chosen to enhance their emergency management knowledge, while contributing to the EM field and maintaining a high level of academic excellence. ($500)

AND THE WINNERS ARE!

Brian Hook Memorial Award Winner: Julie Chambers from York University

Julie is currently a candidate for a Master of Disaster and Emergency Management (MDEM) at York University where she also completed her undergraduate degree and certificate in emergency management. Though emergency management has been a passion for Julie for several years, the combination of her work experience and education ignited her interest in pursuing disaster and emergency management (DEM) in an academic setting. Within emergency management, her most recent roles include working and/or volunteering with the Rosedale-Moore Park Association, Toronto Pride, and the City of Burlington. Additionally, Julie leads the York University Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association (DEMSA) as President. Julie’s specific interests in the field are climate change and environmental sustainability, psychosocial elements of disaster and emergency management, and critical infrastructure protection. With her Master’s degree, Julie hopes to work on developing sustainable policies, plans, and programs to enhance the capabilities of local communities and organizations. Through her work with DEMSA she hopes to collaborate with the DEM community within and outside of the MDEM program to foster a positive experience for the all DEM students.

From left to right: Michael Hook (son of Major Brian Hook) and Julie Chambers

A Normand Academic Award Winner: Jennifer Martin from Royal Roads University

Jennifer is a current student with Royal Roads University in the Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management (MA DEM) degree program. Her academic career started at Wilfrid Laurier University with an Honours Bachelor degree in Global Studies, with a minor in Sociology. After working for a couple of years, Jennifer pursued the Emergency Management Graduate Certificate from Fanshawe College. Through this certificate’s practicum, Jennifer worked on a project with the City of Hamilton creating and formatting questions for their community emergency preparedness outreach program. After a year of working in the environmental emergency response industry, Jennifer pursued her MA DEM journey. Jennifer has a background as a client service representative taking insurance claims during a number of disaster events such as; Hurricane Sandy, floods in numerous Canadian regions, windstorms in Alberta and ice storms in Southern Ontario to name a few. She has also recently assisted with student development activities at Sheridan College with their Emergency Management program. Jennifer continuously attends training sessions to boost her knowledge and professional development, most recently in Incident Management System (IMS 300 and 250) and the Emergency and Continuity Management Standards (CSA Z1600). Jennifer’s future goals are to gain more hands on experience in the DEM field through the internship track of the MA DEM program.

From left to right: Nicole Normand, Alain Normand and Jennifer Martin

President’s Award Winner: Serenna Besserer from Algonquin College

Serenna Besserer is in her seventh year of working for the Canadian Red Cross. During her first six years on the job she was the Disaster Management Community Services Coordinator and responsible for a very large district in North Eastern Ontario encompassing over 40 Municipalities and First Nation Reserves. Serenna managed a team of 100 Volunteers in her district by providing coordinated Red Cross Emergency Management program services. Serenna also managed the community’s homeless prevention initiative program in coordination with the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board. During Serenna’s six years as the Disaster Management Community Services Coordinator she has managed Municipal & Multi Municipal emergencies as well as assisted in Provincial, National and International responses. Serenna has also managed the annual spring flood evacuations of James Bay communities.

In 2016 Serenna was promoted as the Assistant Manager to the James and Hudson Bay coastal Red Cross offices, responsible for all programs. She currently manages the staff along the James and Hudson Bay, and is helping to build community resilience through public education, building community partnerships and prepositioning disaster relief supplies and trained volunteers. Serenna’s next goal is to enroll in the Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management program to aid in her professional growth within the EM field. Her passion is disaster management and to continue to help people affected by disasters.

From left to right: Past Presidents Alain Normand and Mike Hand, Serenna Besserer and current President Mike O’Brien

On April 7th, the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) hosted our inaugural “First Friday” Branch Meeting at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC), which included presentations from MTO, Georgina Township, and several OFMEM staff. We expanded our audience, normally limited to staff of the EM Branch, and invited GTA-area CEMCs, MEMCs, and federal partners.

But let me back up a little.

As emergency management practitioners, we’ve all heard the phrase “An emergency is not the time to be exchanging business cards.” When we started the process of identifying priority activities for the EM Branch late last year, there was widespread agreement that we should be working as a branch to improve relationships with our stakeholders. Of the four goals ultimately identified in our 2017 Business Plan, two are focused on relationships:

Building trust with our partners is not a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have”. Not only do we need strong relationships during emergency incidents, but as we strive to build Ontario’s “next generation” emergency management system, we know we can’t do it alone.

It was in the pursuit of these goals that our Operations Manager, Jason Redlarksi, suggested that we open up our weekly Branch meetings to our partners once a month. When Branch meetings were first introduced by our Director Mike Morton last October, many of us (myself included) thought “Oh no, not ANOTHER teleconference!” I will gladly eat my words now, as they’ve turned into a highlight of the week. Each meeting follows the weekly Threat and Risk Assessment (TRA) in the PEOC, and 3-5 staff members provide updates on projects they are working on or events they have attended. With many of our staff working remotely, it’s helped ensure everyone is in the loop. The meetings have increased collaboration by connecting our own work with the business plan and the work of our colleagues. With his suggestion, Jason presented another

opportunity for connection – connecting the work we do with that of our partners.

Fast forward to the present.

Operations Manager Jason Redlarski delivering the PEOC Threat Risk Assessment

The first “First Friday” meeting was timed to coincide with the launch of our Emergency Management Visual History project, a photo gallery in the hall outside the PEOC illustrating disasters that have influenced the evolution of emergency management in Ontario. We asked Stephanie Maragna, EM Coordinator for the Ministry of Transportation, to present on the development of MTO’s Heavy Equipment Emergency Mobilization System (HEEMS). Ron Jenkins, the CEMC for Georgina Township, provided an overview of the response to the Georgina Train Derailment in March. OFMEM’s Public Education Officer Aman Kainth shared success stories of the successful #PrepareYourSelfie campaign in preparation for Emergency Preparedness Week, while Amanda Davy provided an update on the re-establishment of the Incident Management System (IMS) Steering Committee. After the meeting presenters and guests were invited to stick around for coffee and networking.

We’ve been thrilled by the feedback we received on this initiative, and are eagerly planning the next “First Friday” meeting, to be held on May 5th. This meeting will feature an update from the NGO Alliance on the exciting work they are doing.

As with many things in EM, our vision for these meetings is still evolving. We want the meetings to be inclusive, accessible and reflective of the diversity of our stakeholders while keeping in mind our limitations of space (the PEOC is big, but not that big!), technology (Our WebEx account limits the number of users who could attend remotely) and location (we’re a little further north now, but still in

Toronto!). We also don’t know — would you all even be interested in attending these meetings? (Trick question, of course you would!) Above all, we want the meetings to provide value to our staff and guests, and we welcome your suggestions. If you’re working on a project, have responded to a recent incident, or are planning an EM-related event and think it would be relevant to OFMEM and our EM partners, please let us know. You can e-mail me at Alexandra.Lawless@ontario.ca.

Alex Lawless, Liaison Officer – Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management

Teamwork

I am often asked what spurred me to write my newly published book, 7 Steps to Emergency Preparedness for Families. The answer is twofold: a need for action, and a need for teamwork. Let me explain.

We know that given the frequency and magnitude of disasters, there is an urgent need for families to prepare. Yet we also know that prevention is a hard sell. How do we motivate people to take action?

First, we must motivate and provide appealing and easily accessible solutions, rather than ‘information’. Second, risk reduction stakeholders must collaborate to disseminate resources as widely as possible. 

Information abounds on the Internet, but not all credible, accurate, or practical. After searching extensively on the web myself, even I got confused. It is easy to get lost in the links, become overwhelmed, and give up — not ideal for promoting resilience. Furthermore, it is somewhat unrealistic to expect people to know what the solutions are and have the drive to find them. And even if someone perseveres for answers, gathering information rarely leads to action.

Surely, I thought, a tangible tool to inspire action must exist. I searched, but I could not find one that met my criteria:

  • Offer a comprehensive, all-hazard approach on how to prepare, respond, and return home safely.
  • Be affordable, accessible, and practical.
  • Translate research and lessons learned from past disasters into simple language.
  • Apply proven strategies to galvanize risk reduction behavior.
  • Support, but not duplicate, current strategies from government and nonprofit organizations.

So, I wrote my book to fill the gap!

As an independent expert, I could develop and market my book without any limitations. A major goal I had in mind when writing was to motivate action by maximizing every known strategy. The information had to be clear, relevant, accurate, and focused on doable action. As well, it was important to use effective marketing strategies and leverage the concept of social responsibility. Furthermore, people tend to commit more if they’ve paid for something. This book is not a substitute or replacement for national and global risk reduction efforts; rather, it has been designed to be an effective complement to them.

I consider myself part of the global risk reduction team. With my book and related presentations and workshops, I can reach families, communities, and companies where traditional emergency preparedness can’t go, both supporting and augmenting government and nonprofit strategies. Teamwork in action!

I take great pleasure in helping people and seeing their stress replaced with feelings of peace and pride, knowing that their family or company is prepared for disaster. Of the many comments on my book, let me share two: “This is exactly what we need”; “Can we use it as a training manual for our community?” My response? Yes! Mission accomplished.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller

For more information about the book and where to purchase it, please visit www.kimfournier.com. Discounts are offered for orders of 25 books or more,