Calling all Seasoned EM/BC Professionals, Students and Early Career Professionals! Registration for the OAEM Mentorship Program is now open!

The OAEM mentorship program is now kicking off for the third time! The program is for college/university students based in Ontario who are studying in an emergency management educational program, or early career professionals based in Ontario who have graduated within the last 2 years. The program aims to connect EM/BC students and early career professionals to seasoned professionals in the field in order to promote networking and knowledge transfer, and assist in building connections.

The OAEM Education Director will provide help to both Mentors and Mentees in establishing the partnership. Monthly contact between Mentors and Mentees is expected via phone, e-mail, Skype, Face Time, and face-to-face meetings.

If you are currently working in emergency management or business continuity in the public, private or not-for-profit sectors and would like to guide and develop the next generation of emergency management practitioner or if you are an Ontario-based EM/BC student interested in building connections and learning about the field, please  complete a form found on the following link:

https://oaem.ca/career-building/mentorship/

Review from Serenna Besserer (OAEM Mentor 2016 – 2017):

“I really enjoying being able to mentor students studying Disaster and Emergency Management. I wish this opportunity was presented to me when I first started my career and it is nice to give back by helping the new students.”

Review from Saricka DaCosta (OAEM Mentee 2016 – 2017):

“Great opportunity to learn from experience individuals in the field, if you are every considering going into the EM.”

If you have any questions, please contact education@oaem.ca

Mental health and the impact it can have in the operational environment took centre stage at a recent professional development session held by the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers, on November 03, 2017 at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre in Toronto.

Conducted in partnership with the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall and Emergency Management (OFMEM), the session entitled “Mental Health in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) – What you need to know as an industry leading emergency manager” was the first in a professional development series launched by the OAEM in September with the goal of providing proactive and practical strategies for supporting mental health in the EOC.

According to Dr. Lori Gray, a clinical, forensic, and rehabilitation psychologist who focuses on the issue of trauma through her work with first responders and a key note speaker at the development session, there were key takeaways which would allow attendees to strengthen their emergency management programs in respect to mental health.

“While the field of workplace mental health has grown exponentially, recommendations have tended to focus more on traditional work,” Gray said during the presentation.  “In contrast, the EOC presents unique demands and challenges in the application of those recommendations.”

Moving forward, the second event in the professional development series, scheduled to take place on 25 January 2018, will focus and review the best practices and lessons learned in crisis communications and reputation management. Jason Reid, OAEM’s Professional Development Director, believed the mental health session and the series itself further affirms the commitment of the volunteer organization in furthering the emergency management field.

“It’s truly remarkable how a group of volunteers made up of passionate professionals can have a positive impact on the professional development in Ontario’s Emergency Management Community,” said Jason Reid. “We have a unique opportunity and obligation to support emergency management professionals while connecting industry experts willing to share the good, and more importantly the bad.  This shared information allows others to gain the strength of knowledge from both new practices and the lessons learned.”

The Emergency Management Branch of the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) is pleased to announce the launch of the ‘Municipal EMPCA Online Compliance Submission Tool’.  This tool was developed by OFMEM, with the assistance of CEMCs from across the province.  The tool provides CEMCs with the ability to provide OFMEM with their annual compliance submission online, including copies of any supporting documents that they wish to provide in order to demonstrate their compliance with the annual requirements of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The tool has been developed in way that is intuitive, easy to follow, and secure. Continue reading

OAEM’s Professional Development Series Reinforces its Mission of Promoting, Supporting, and Enhancing the Profession of Emergency Management

Mental health and the impact it can have in the operational environment took centre stage at a recent professional development session held by the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers, on November 03, 2017 at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre in Toronto.

Conducted in partnership with the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall and Emergency Management (OFMEM), the session entitled “Mental Health in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) – What you need to know as an industry leading emergency manager” was the first in a professional development series launched by the OAEM in September with the goal of providing proactive and practical strategies for supporting mental health in the EOC.

According to Dr. Lori Gray, a clinical, forensic, and rehabilitation psychologist who focuses on the issue of trauma through her work with first responders and a key note speaker at the development session, there were key takeaways which would allow attendees to strengthen their emergency management programs in respect to mental health.

“While the field of workplace mental health has grown exponentially, recommendations have tended to focus more on traditional work,” Gray said during the presentation.  “In contrast, the EOC presents unique demands and challenges in the application of those recommendations.”

Moving forward, the second event in the professional development series, scheduled to take place on 25 January 2018, will focus and review the best practices and lessons learned in crisis communications and reputation management. Jason Reid, OAEM’s Professional Development Director, believed the mental health session and the series itself further affirms the commitment of the volunteer organization in furthering the emergency management field.

“It’s truly remarkable how a group of volunteers made up of passionate professionals can have a positive impact on the professional development in Ontario’s Emergency Management Community,” Reid said. “We have a unique opportunity and obligation to support emergency management professionals while connecting industry experts willing to share the good, and more importantly the bad.  This shared information allows others to gain the strength of knowledge from both new practices and the lessons learned.”

In Brampton, good things come in “threes”. At least when dealing with emergency management. We have three response teams, A, B and C. We offer training sessions three times to make sure all our teams get the full package. Finally, our exercise series is always a group of three sessions.

In September and October 2017, we held exercise Tempest, a tornado exercise scenario. Tempest I was for team A and was a full-scale exercise, the largest the City of Brampton has ever held. Tempest II was held only in the EOC and gave Tea

m B the task of transitioning from response into recovery, while Tempest III had Team C take on the task of coordinating the recovery plan activities.

Tempest I involved 174 staff from the City of Brampton including Mayor Jeffrey, the Region of Peel including Peel Police, and

partner agencies, along with over 60 volunteers and 20 evaluators/observers. We had 8 fire trucks, 2 buses, 7 police vehicles and 1 ambulance on site. The exercise play was held at the Brampton Powerade Centre where the parking lot was turned into a disaster zone. With cars turned over, trees and branches mixed with all sorts of debris, and volunteers dressed with make-up of bloody parts, severed limbs and other injuries, the place was reminiscent of an apocalyptic movie set.

On site, beyond the victim extrication, the emergency medical intervention, and the triage, we also had a hazmat incident involving a fake chlorine tank rupture, a lost autistic patient, and a woman going into labour. As part of the scenario, one of the buses took on volunteers designated as people to be evacuated to the reception centre/shelter set up at the South Fletcher Sportsplex where Social Services and Red Cross set up to provide them with emergency social services. The other bus took twenty “injured” people and brought them to the emergency room at the Brampton Civic Hospital where a code Orange was declared.

While all of this was going on, the emergency plan was activated, the EOC was opened and the IMS system put to use to support all of these sites. The exercise ran for about two and a half hours and gave us a chance to identify any concerns and gaps in our plans. We included newer elements such as a test Twitter account to see if we were able to send out the information to our citizens in a timely manner.

The planning for all this took almost a full year with the help of Emergency Management Training Inc. who was contracted to develop the scenario and the injects as well as help coordinate the event.

Tempest II had 58 participants including Councillor Palleschi and 2 evaluators. It allowed us to take what had come out of Tempest I and use it as the starting point with the goal of transitioning from response to recovery. Tempest II had another 46 participants including Councillor Bowman and 4 evaluators, this time using the data collected from Tempest I and II to move fully into a recovery plan and set the ground work for what would probably be weeks and months of emergency social service, repairs and rebuilding, as well as economic recovery.

All participants really got into their roles which made for a series of great exercises. We have yet to compile all of the comments from the evaluations but we can already see a few themes for our 2018 workplan. The technology aspect is one that we aim to enhance as well as more clarity on some of the roles non-traditional responders would play.

All three teams performed very well with their respective issues and we are confident that we will have the depth needed in a large-scale or prolonged situation so that we never burn out any of our people. You know the saying that three is a crowd, but when dealing with large-scale emergencies, then a crowd is what you need. So Brampton’s three teams make the exact kind of crowd we want.

At long last we’re getting the OAEM Book Club off the ground! The idea was brought up in the Facebook group during the middle of the year, and OAEM has been wonderful enough to host a place for it on the website.

What is this?

Emergency management is a diverse field. It covers a spectrum of topics from the heady humanities like philosophy (ethics anyone?), to the immensely practical fields of statistics and engineering (trying to eyeball a levee is pretty tough).  So there is a monumental amount of material both directly and indirectly relevant to emergency management. To better explore this embarrassment of literary riches, we’re forming a book club to give us all an opportunity to revisit the classics, explore new ideas, and enjoy some spirited debate over the controversial.

What can you expect?

We’re going to be conservative and start off with about four books a year. Every three months we’ll put up a blogpost on the page indicating what book we’re reading this quarter and a brief description. If everybody is devouring the books and hungry for more, we’ll update the frequency.

At the end of the first month we’ll update the page with a few questions on the book. From there we’ll discuss the book for the next couple of months in the thread below. Just remember to keep all conversations and debates civil, grounded in evidence, and on topic.

During the third month we will start taking suggestions for the next book we’ll read, and then a quick poll on the suggestions. If there’s a tie, we’ll pick one at random and go from there.

What kinds of books can I suggest?

Any book that is published, reviewed, available, and relevant. To make sure that suggestions meet these criteria, all suggestions will need a brief pitch in order to be considered. We reserve the right to accept or reject suggestions based upon accessibility, appropriateness, and availability. For example, we might reject a very well written technical treatise on dam construction if it is 300 pages of straight math and fold-out diagrams.

To get the ball rolling, we’re going to pick a fairly safe choice that is widely available. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with this pick, and I’m sure just as many have read portions of it or the book in its entirety. For the next three months let’s read:

Normal Accidents: Living with High Risk Technologies by Charles Perrow.

Written in 1984, Normal Accidents was a huge leap in the way we analyze risks and conceptualize accidents. Rather than looking at the problem of accidents and disaster through an engineering lens, he took a sociological approach. Systems by design could produce unintended consequences, and social factors like organization, management, and hubris, were the main cause of accidents. Perrow gave us new ways of understanding complicated and highly volatile environments. The concepts of ‘linear’ or ‘complex systems’, and ‘tightly coupled’ or ‘loosely coupled’ would not have entered our lexicon without him. This book represented a major step forward in our field and deserves our consideration.

Questions for this book will be posted on 3 December 2017 and we will begin taking suggestions for the next round on 3 January 2018.

Until then happy reading!

The world is changing.  Just watch the news and you’ll see something new and different every day.  That means us, as BCM/DR/EM professionals, need to change as well; from our planning practices, recovery protocols and restoration activities to how we network amongst ourselves and how we get our message out to the masses.

Over the years, no matter the organization or the industry, getting one’s true message understood by employees, the community and even the media at times, can be quite a challenge.  There’s the regular email and poster campaigns and the usual ‘lunch-and-learn’ session and press releases but quite often that isn’t enough.

Professionals don’t always get to share their ideas; not even at conferences, where you may or may not be lucky enough to get passed the microphone to ask a question.  As the world changes, so to must our ways of conveying ideas and talking about our practices.  Now, the emergency, disaster and business continuity realms will be able to take a new step forward with creating a global community and the sharing of ideas by leveraging and old-time friend of yesteryear with that of the internet.

In mid-July 2017, I started a weekly internet talk radio show on the VoiceAmerica.com radio network (www.voiceamerica.com) called “Preparing for the Unexpected”.  The show is a new vehicle to get the business continuity/emergency/disaster management message out there to the masses – the global masses!

Using commentary and conversational style interviews with industry experts, the show aims to increase the awareness of Emergency Management, Business Continuity, Crisis Management and other like-minded and accompanying practices and industries by sharing ideas and opinions and providing guidance in sight on existing processes.  There really are allot of ways for us to prepare for the unexpected.   …and now everyone has the opportunity to be a part of it.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to know or a topic you want to discuss?  Do you have a burning desire to get a particular message across to people?  Well, you now have the opportunity to tell the world by leveraging “Preparing for the Unexpected”.  Help increase the level of awareness and reduce the level of suffering emergencies and disasters can cause by sharing your ideas and knowledge with individuals around the globe.  Send an email to info@stone-road.com and let’s see if we can get you on the show.


The City of Windsor has had its share of flooding over the past year.  Last years’ rainfall, in October of 2016, overwhelmed the municipalities’ systems.  And again last month, the City experienced flooding due to weather systems that dumped hundreds of millimeters of precipitation resulting in 1000’s of flooded basements.  Only this time, the flooding was much more severe.  The track of the system correlated very well to the locations of the calls; the system had moved in from the southwest and tracked northeast over the City.

The calls started coming into the City’s 311 Call Centre shortly after the downpour began on August 29th, and continued for days.  By the end of the following weekend, over 6300 calls had been received by the Centre from homeowners with flooded basements.

Samaritans Purse Canada (SPC) deployed a Rapid Response Assessment Team to Windsor to determine the extent of the damage.  As a member of the NGO Alliance of Ontario, Samaritans Purse Canada’s focus has been on recovery and, in this case, the gutting of flood-impacted basements and the emotional and spiritual well-being of the homeowners – many who had just their most prized family possessions.  Initial contact was made to the City’s Community EM Coordinators’ office.  We were then linked to the City’s identified Liaison Officer for continued communications and coordination.

SPC deployed one of their three Regionally-based Disaster Relief Units.  These self-contained Units allow the international Christian disaster relief organiza

tion to move quickly and efficiently into place.  Along with their Site Leadership Team, local church volunteers – in this case, from Parkwood Gospel Temple and other churches – and high schools, we began reaching out to the affected neighbourhoods.

Whole neighbourhoods were impacted by this storm.  On quiet city streets, every driveway in whole neighbourhoods had debris outside for pickup.  What was disconcerting though, was the number of driveways that didn’t have anything out yet.  As the days passed, calls began coming into our mobile operations office, requesting assistance with removing appliances, moldy debris, washing and mold spraying.  Even three weeks after the storm, SPC was still receiving calls for assistance from homeowners who just couldn’t manage on their own.

The City of Windsor were strong advocates for SPC during this recovery phase.  They promoted our work on the City’s website, briefed their Call Centre

 

and City Council on our activities and allowed us access to key City departments that were also involved with the clean-up.  Communications were key.  Early on, SPC’s Communication Services were linked directly to the City’s Communications department to ensure consistent key messaging was delivered in a timely manner across both of our platforms.

SPC provided valued assistance to homeowners in Windsor, along with the efforts provided by the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Christian Reformed Church’s World Renew group for rebuilding efforts.  It was unfortunate that we had to come back to the City after being there only eleven months earlier, but lessons are always learned on how we can become better at what we do.  And so it was with this recovery deployment.

SPC is continuing to strengthen both its Lighthouse Church Program and its Disaster Relief Program across the country and its through responses like the one to Windsor that enable us to better meet the needs of the most vulnerable impacted residents who have been impacted by emergencies and disasters.

Steve Elliott

Disaster Response Coordinator | Central Canada

705.917.0529

selliott@samaritan.ca

www.samaritanspurse.ca

As Emergency Management Professionals we are great at conducting post-incident debriefs. The tried and true:

  • What went well?
  • What did not go well?
  • Opportunities for improvement?

Your Board of Directors (past and present) have put in significant effort over the last several years to strengthen and grow YOUR association. We have strengthened our web and social media presence, began developing strategic direction for the future of the OAEM, and developed & delivered professional development opportunities for new grads and seasoned professionals.

But we know there is more work to be done to ensure you’re getting the most value for your membership dollar.  So I want to hear from you, the members!

Social Media

Do you connect with our social media channels (Twitter or Facebook)? If so, what are we doing well? Can we improve on anything? Would you like to see any additional social media channels utilized?

Website (www.oaem.ca)

Do you frequently visit the site? What do you like about the website? What improvements would you like to see?

Did you know that the OAEM has opened up an online community on our site for other EM organizations that operate within Ontario? While the OUR COMMUNITY area is in its infancy it is up to you all to help it grow! Do you have an EM community you would like to link to the website?

Blogs

Do you have a story to tell? Is there research you’ve recently completed or an emerging trend you would like to share with the community? We are always accepting blog submissions from our members. The requirements are pretty simple. Send us a two line bio, picture, and keep the submission to between 350-500 words.

Professional Development

Have you attended or will you be attending any of our PD workshops or the NextGEN events this year? Do you have topics that you would like us to offer sessions on?

In the coming months, we are looking to host a number of events around Ontario. Our goal is to put the “O” in OAEM by hosting events in Northern, Eastern, and South Western Ontario in addition to events within the Greater Toronto Area. Are you interested in hosting events in your community? If so, we definitely want to hear from you!

The key to all of the success that the Association has experienced is 100% due to our members and the feedback you continually provide us. Your thoughts and suggestions can be sent to engagement@oaem.ca