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

Background 

In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, NGO Alliance of Ontario organizations will need to continue to respond to the needs of communities impacted by overland flood, wildfire, tornado, etc… The current pandemic increases risk exposure during response to NGO personnel, volunteers, clients and the public. While each respective mission remains the same for these organizations, the methods by which this mission is achieved will necessarily need to adapt to meet this new risk landscape. 

Objective 

The objective of this document is to compile current NGO Alliance of Ontario organization best practices to increase safe workspaces to ensure staff, volunteers, clients and the public are protected as much as possible while NGOs deliver services. While it is understood that each NGO will engage their own duty of care planning teams to evaluate and mitigate individual risks, this document is intended to help provide a framework for those evaluations. 

Considerations 

General Considerations 

 Risk management is a real-time discipline and, as such, it is critical to create a feedback loop from frontline to management staff so that safety issues can be addressed quickly 

 Ensure frontline workers are aware that they have the right to refuse unsafe work at any time 

 It is helpful to assign a health and safety lead for every team/task 

 Anticipate that increased health and safety practices with regard to COVID19 will lower overall productivity, leadership must adjust expectations accordingly 

Volunteer/Staff Recruitment and Activation 

 Ensure volunteers and staff are made aware of the increased risk of volunteering and are allowed to provide ‘informed consent’ before they accept a new assignment 

 Utilize health screening tools such as Ontario’s Self-assessment Tool before deploying personnel https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/#q0 

 Consider increased online training strategies to ensure personnel understand new risks and procedures before they arrive on site 

 Prioritize local volunteers/staff to limit risk exposure related to domestic air-travel 

 Be conscious of personnel at ‘high-risk’ to COVID19 (i.e. those over 60, those with compromised immune systems, etc…) 

 Document start and end of shift health screening – temperature check 

Volunteer/Staff Travel Logistics 

 Where possible select transportation options that limit exposure risk (driving vs. flying) 

 Organizational/shared vehicles should be equipped with sanitizer and drivers instructed to sanitize surfaces upon each entrance into the vehicle 

 Where possible, limit number of individuals in each vehicle, possibly encouraging use of personal vehicles where practical, some organizations are limiting vehicles to two occupants, one in front and one in back. 

 Utilize procedural masks to catch any cough/sneeze inside vehicle 

Interactions with Clients/Public 

 Maintain distance of 2m whenever dealing with clients/public 

 Request clients call ahead or schedule by appointment 

 To the extent possible, limit interactions with clients/public, this may mean interacting with clients outside of organizational facilities (i.e. pop-up tent outdoors, while client is in their vehicle) 

 Provide procedural masks to clients for personnel safety 

 For tasks that require personnel to enter homes, call ahead and inquire if there are symptomatic or at-risk occupants to the home. > 60 years old, underlying health issues (cardiac, pulmonary, diabetes, cancer) and immune-suppressed individuals 

 Sanitize items that may be shared between personnel and clients (pens, clipboards, carts, etc…) 

Food Handling 

 Safe food handling should be practiced at all times. 

o Washing hands before and after handling food and food packaging is standard practice in food premises and should be strictly enforced at food banks and food distribution hubs 

o Staff and volunteers should avoid touching eyes, nose and face, and should remind each other if they see co-workers touching their own faces 

o If using disposable gloves for any tasks, handwashing is still important and should be done before putting on and after removing the gloves. If using gloves, change often, especially if soiled, ripped or become dirty. 

 Refer to hand-washing and hand sanitizing guidance here: 

https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/factsheet/factsheet-covid-19- hand-hygiene.pdf?la=en 

 Limit number of people permitted in any food handling areas 

 Sanitize food as necessary, wash hands frequently 

 Avoid shared or ‘family-style’ meal serving, food served to personnel or public should be single-serving 

 Sanitize all commonly touched surfaces 

Volunteer/Staff Housing Logistics 

 Document health screening of all deployed personnel on a daily basis (before and after shift) 

 House volunteers in the lowest possible density to establish physical distancing (ideally independent rooms/buildings) 

 Ensure there are enough supplies on hand for proper hand hygiene, including soap, warm running water and paper towels or hot air dryers. 

 Establish regular sanitization plan for any shared spaces, especially high-touch surfaces like door knobs, computers, keyboards, computer mice, headsets, telephones, light switches, railings, tables, chairs, vehicles, equipment, and tools 

 Any shared office/eating space should also follow an established sanitization schedule 

 No-touch garbage cans are preferred for disposal of items. 

 Post signs in conspicuous locations reminding personnel to wash hands and practice physical-distancing 

 Where personnel may be eating together, consider physically spacing chairs and tables to promote 2m distancing 

Personal Protective Equipment 

 Evaluate procedures to determine appropriate PPE procedures for each task, enough to maintain safety but not too much to create shortage 

 Ensure personnel are aware of proper donning/doffing procedures as improper use of PPE can increase personal risk 

 Have an established procedure and reporting system for PPE breaches 

Mental and Emotional Considerations 

 Working in a COVID19 risk environment elevates emotional and mental strain, so consider what provisions could be made for personnel to alleviate increased stress 

 Ensure families of deployed personnel are informed of and support increased risk to their family member while serving 

Reporting 

 Organizations should have a reporting mechanism to identify health and safety breaches as well as near misses. 

 Establish possible exposure reporting process and consequence plan 

 Detailed daily tracking of movements. In the event of a positive, the organization will need to help Ontario’s Ministry of Health track backwards for containment. 

Safety Protocol


By Judy Pal

As first responders and emergency managers, we know the importance of timely, responsible, and ethical communication during a crisis.  We are tasked with ensuring the right information, gets to the right people, at the right time, so they can do the right thing.

While most of us participate in annual or bi-annual desktop crisis tabletop exercises, it’s important to maintain communications plans year-round and to stay on top of trends to ensure when a crisis hits, you are prepared to respond immediately.

The definition of ‘immediately’ has changed drastically over the years.  Ten years ago, immediately may have been within the hour.  Today, with the advent of social media, ‘immediately’ means within the first three to five minutes of a crisis.  How can you be prepared to do that when information coming in so early in an event is usually (a) sketchy and (b) wrong?

That’s where this advanced crisis workshop comes to bear. Throughout my career in law enforcement, government, and the professional sports and entertainment industry; I’ve dealt with myriad crises ranging from line of duty deaths and employee malfeasance to terror attacks and natural disasters.  They all share significant similarities, danger zones and potential pitfalls.

In this one-day workshop, we’re going to spend time discussing the current trends in information dissemination during a crisis, including speed, decontextualization, and rumor. Today’s Public Information Officer (PIO) or Media Relations Officer (MRO) must be prepared to work within this new paradigm while providing information that will help move a community forward through whatever crisis is occurring, minimizing fear and maximizing safety.

An agency (and the agency head) will be judged on its preparedness and response to a crisis, more than the crisis itself. Not surprisingly, every crisis progresses through specific steps.  Once you are able to identify them, it becomes easier to move through each phase and anticipate what’s next.  Meanwhile, the media has its own unique phases of coverage in crisis.  Again, understanding this progression allows you to prepare messaging that will most benefit your community.  Your goal in communicating in crisis is to simply move the narrative forward, while helping defuse fear, engage your community, and help victims heal. One must be aware that in crisis, the understanding level of your audiences drops one to three grade levels – so simple, active messaging is key. These messages must include key elements that both inform and engage your audiences in order to empower them be ‘survivors’ rather than ‘victims’.

You’ll walk out of this session with a template for building your crisis response plan, a proven way to communicate in a way that will be heard and not taken out of context, as well as strategies to ensure you are able to manage the narrative and correct misinformation. 

In addition, we’ll be sharing best practices and new ideas to manage the social media beast since it now takes up so many lanes on the information highway.  Dealing with the speed of rumor, and those who wish to negatively capitalize on your community’s fear or lack of information will be critical. 

Lastly, participants will learn a useful method of responding to media questions while ‘keeping the main thing, the main thing’.

Truly looking forward to coming ‘home’ to Ontario to share experiences and hard-learned best practices.  Emergency services share a brand. Your success is our success, so join us on May 11 for a full day of crisis communications strategies and takeaways.

By Thomas Appleyard

Across Canada, public health officials are urging people who have been in Hubei province or in close contact with someone diagnosed with novel coronavirus to “self-isolate”. Words matter here. The term “self-isolate” appears to be new in the public health lexicon, replacing, at least in Canada, the term quarantine.

“Self-isolate” may sound less daunting than the draconian quarantine, particularly in the context of Wuhan’s mass quarantines; however, “self-isolate” has its own baggage. It sounds like something that is really nobody’s else’s business. It sounds like a decision someone can make outside of the context of a broader health structure. It’s the cousin of self-medicate.

This removes the act of social distancing during a potential incubation period from its context and the need for reciprocity. We owe something to people who are quarantined. We owe nothing to people who self-isolate. 

In Ontario, people who are quarantined under an order of the Health Protection and Promotion Act during a declared emergency receive job protection under the Employment Standards Act. During SARS, the federal government rolled out extensions to the Employment Insurance program to ensure benefits for people facing quarantine orders. While these interventions are imperfect, they recognize that because of the principle of reciprocity we owe something to those who face quarantine. 

There is much more that all levels of government could do to ensure income support, job protection and food security for those following public health advice.

Ontario’s public health guidance says “the [public health unit] should ask close contacts to consider the steps that they would need to take to be able to isolate themselves. This might include discussion with employers, making alternate arrangements to support children/dependents and ensuring an adequate supply of groceries and other necessities.” Many people living in Ontario are in no position to do any of these things.

Ontario and other levels of government have a real opportunity, and some time, to ensure that coronavirus and the interventions they put into place to address it do not exacerbate existing health equities.

We owe this to people who follow public health advice to quarantine to keep us all safe.

The OAEM Board of Directors received a fair bit of feedback about the bulk of our events being held in the Greater Toronto Area over time, and we heard you loud and clear.  You may have noticed that we have been offering more and more events in other parts of Ontario, or events that are remotely available to all. 

We worked with our partners at OFMEM in order to deliver two sessions available via WebEx, one about Specialized Teams in Emergency Management and the other on Barn Fires and Farm Animals Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery.  These sessions were held in-person at the PEOC, and widely attended online.  It was eye-opening, as an emergency manager from an urban centre, to hear about the extent of planning required for livestock emergency management concerns, whether on the farm or on the road.  It was equally fascinating to hear from Toronto HUSAR, the USAR and CBRNE, and Tactics and Rescue Teams of the OPP, as well as EMAT, and all the highly skilled and specialized teams we have in our own province.  

I personally had the honor of attending the Hazards in the North event in Thunder Bay in conjunction with the OFMEM Thunder Bay Sector meeting. This was a well-attended session, with a plethora of great speakers and participants from all over the Northwest.  We heard of the emergency management challenges for First Nations communities, as well as their strengths and successes as a host community in Lac Seul from Education Director and Deputy Fire Chief, Eric Bortlis. We also heard from Dale Smyk and Bob Johnson of MNRF’s FireSmart program about protecting your communities from wildfire.  And finally, we heard from Garry Harland about relationship building and the ways MNRF is working with communities on forest fire concerns in Northern Ontario. 

Additionally, we had a partner work with us and allow us to offer CSA Z1600 in beautiful Ottawa in 2019.  These have always been a crowd favourite of our members.  We received the following feedback from that session: “Had a great time in Ottawa for the CSA Z1600 Business Continuity Standards Course. Thanks OAEM for offering it and Nicole Pinto and Paul Hassanally for instructing!” 

This was a great start but we endeavour to continue to improve our services across all of Ontario.  In addition to these events we have already had, we are pleased to announce a few upcoming events.  We have already held a few of our Scribe Training courses in Niagara that were a resounding success, so we are thrilled to say we have another sold-out session for April 16th in Azilda (northwest of Sudbury). We are grateful to Inspector Monique Rollin for being so incredibly willing to work with us on offering this course to the Ontario Emergency Management community. 

We are thrilled to announce that Mr. Keller is coming to Thunder Bay on November 4th and 5th for the FEMA Certified G290 Basic Public Information Officer training.  This training session has also been extremely well attended and highly requested, and we’re delighted to make it available again. 

We hope you see our dedication to ensuring a whole of Ontario community continues to be developed.  We also want to send our most sincere thanks to our partners who have worked with us to secure space and an audience for many of these sessions.  We wouldn’t be able to pull this off without your collaboration.  If you have an idea for an event or a professional development need, or have the capacity to help us schedule an event in your area, please do not hesitate to contact us at communications@oaem.ca and I will disseminate your request to the appropriate board member so we can see what we can offer the community, together! 

Once again, we are reaching out to all our OAEM student members!

We are seeking our new student board member for 2020! We are always looking to engage with students who have a burning passion for the field of emergency management, who are already bursting with ideas and ambition and are looking for a table to work with their talents and grow their experience.

We recognize that, as important as the history and fundamentals of the field are, that there is real value and strength from our up and coming emergency managers and we want to give you a platform to flourish. We want your ambition, your passion, your drive, your creativity, and your voice. This is a great way to get your foot in the door in the field of emergency management and participate in growing and shaping the field here in Ontario.

OAEM is looking for a Student Board Member who will serve until December 2020. 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 (​which, if you didn’t know, it is a free membership for the first year!)

Please send a 250-400 word Statement of Interest and a copy of your Resume to communications@oaem.ca no later than Friday, February 21, 2020.

By Monique Rollin

In emergency management we know that critical incidents and disasters are low-frequency, high- risk, high-demand situations where impactful decisions need to be made with little time and the stakes are high. Incident Commanders, Emergency Managers and leaders in these situations have to rely on verifiable information to make decisions. The best way to capture, record and retain information during major incidents is by using scribes.

As a profession, scribes have been around for as long as there has been written language. In ancient times, scribes were educated men whose mission it was to chronicle and preserve their civilizations’ history.  Historically, scribes copied books, recorded the orders of royalty and kept the judicial records for nobility. 

The scribe assigned to command staff in an Emergency Operations Centre or Command Post plays an integral role in emergency management and directly contributes to effective emergency management.  The scribe does more than take notes for the Command Section or Incident Commander. The purpose of the scribe is to maintain a verifiable record of key events and actions during an incident including the documentation of events, decisions, incoming and outgoing information and tracking actions that need to be addressed. These notes capture the actions, decisions, and directions of the Commander and importantly, the circumstances and information that lead the Commander to make those decisions.  Having a trained scribe allows the Commander to focus on the important facts and decision making rather than record keeping and note taking. Incident Command notes are a critical record of the event and are often used as incident records in after action reports, reviews and legal proceedings. 

The documentation kept by the EOC scribe does more than provide a timeline of events. They are a vital support to the Commander to support situational awareness for assigned tasks, information flow and resource tracking.  The relationship between a good scribe and their assigned commander can support the whole operation, assist with briefings, debriefs and contribute to sound decision making by providing the Commander a demonstrable record of the incident. 

The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers is pleased to offer professional development and ongoing learning opportunities. The new Scribe Training Program for The Emergency Operations Centre has been overwhelmingly well received and has trained over 45 municipal, regional and private sector EOC scribes with additional training planned for Northern Ontario in April 2020. 

Having worked in policing and emergency response for over 30 years in Northern Ontario I can attest to the lack of opportunities my colleagues have to access professional development in the North. We are challenged by geography, budgets and access to services.  Having training development come to us in beautiful Northern Ontario in the spring is an immense opportunity to bring emergency management professionals together from all across Ontario. 

I am excited to contribute to OAEM’s third training event for EOC Scribes. Please join me as you learn about how to be a competent Scribe in an Incident Command Post, Emergency Operations Center or in the field.  This one day training course will review roles, responsibilities and duties including scribe note taking in the EOC work environment, register for the event in Sudbury at https://oaem.ca/civicrm/?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/event/info&reset=1&id=97

Interested in hosting a scribe course for your community or organization? Contact Jason Reid, Professional Development Director at profdevt@oaem.ca

By: Nathan Normoyle Vice President – National Operations Access Restoration Services Ltd

Earlier this year, Toronto mayor, John Tory, announced that a comprehensive series of inspections would be carried out to numerous apartment buildings in Toronto. This work, he said, would be carried out by a team of workers directed by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), Toronto Fire and City of Toronto Bylaw Enforcement Officers.

Tory’s newly established team has taken a defensive approach and have ordered structured ‘power shutdowns’ of certain buildings it believes may be at risk of imminent failure to one or more of its building systems. The power shutdowns are designed to allow for critical inspections and repairs to help ensure public and resident safety.

Of special interest to city officials are high rise rental apartments over forty years old that may have received minimal preventative maintenance to their electrical systems, especially their electrical distribution equipment. Insufficient maintenance to these systems runs the risk of creating significant safety hazards for the building’s residents. Tory emphasized that not only do catastrophic events that occur to buildings as a result of improper maintenance create financial strain on the residents, but on the City itself. There are significant costs related to responding to emergency situations such as fire and floods in high rise buildings.

Access Restoration Services (ARS) is specially equipped to handle all aspects of a power shut down. As a full-service restoration company, we have the experience to handle all aspects of inspections and repairs to electrical systems and all systems found in high-rise buildings. Coordinating electrical disconnections, inspections, and repairs not only requires a team of electricians, it also entails the assistance of more than a dozen other trade specialties to safely complete the work. For example, a Phase Testing/Thermal Imaging company may be needed to complete physical inspections and testing of the electrical distribution. A plumbing professional may be required to drain water from the building to prevent flooding during the power shutdown and then to re-energize the plumbing system at the end of the process.  

Other trade specialists include those who inspect and correct fire-stopping deficiencies that function to impede the spread of fire, fire residues and water escape to adjacent suites and floors of the building. 24-hour security guards need to be in place during a power shutdown to maintain fire watch while the fire detection systems are off-line;  elevator technicians must be on hand to safely decommission elevators before the start of a power shut down and recommission once power has been re-established. Temporary power distribution equipment is typically needed to power Life Systems including emergency lighting in stairwells and emergency lighting in the parking garages. Temporary power also serves basic building systems to ensure that residents can safely access their apartment.  

Faced with a power shut down order from the ESA, owners or property managers have a very small window of time to comply – sometimes only a week or two. This does not leave much time to plan and execute all of the intricate ‘moving parts’ required to properly plan and execute the power shut down. ARS can plan, coordinate and execute all aspects of a power shut down, from start to finish, with as little as 48 hours’ notice.

The proactive method of inspecting and repairing a building’s electrical system that would serve to reduce the stress of the building’s residents as well as its managers is to start the planning process before the inevitable visit from one of the City’s authorities. There are certain times of the year that would only increase the negative impact for residents such as major holidays and periods of extreme temperatures. There are also certain times of the week that prove to be more disruptive to residents. Routine visual inspections and regular maintenance of electrical distribution equipment by licensed electricians and building systems performed by appropriate licensed technicians is key to reducing likelihood of unwelcome surprises.

The length of a power shut down will depend on the state of the electrical distribution equipment and the age of the building. Most shutdowns require a period of one to two days. While some buildings might only require eight hours to finalize necessary inspections and repairs, other buildings that have received very little maintenance or had mechanical systems’ work carried out by unqualified personnel have required up to four-day shutdowns. Much depends on the level of inspection required, how much maintenance needs to be performed and how much equipment needs to be replaced.

Power shutdowns can be very unsettling and uncomfortable for residents. They could be without power and water for an extended period of time. The situation is worse for tenants who live on higher floors or those with physical limitations since the elevators do not operate during a power shut down. Making matters more stressful, ordered shutdowns usually allow less lead time for residents to make any adjustments they might need to their daily routines ahead of the power shutdown. During this stressful time, Access Restoration Services maintains a safe work site where fire safety and life safety remain in place. The fire department is put on notice and work is done as quickly as possible to minimize the inconvenience of those who live and work in the building.

With the increase of catastrophic events occurring to Toronto’s aging buildings caused by poor or irregular maintenance to its building systems, there is an increased commitment from Toronto’s Authorities to review building owner’s and property manager’s maintenance programs. While some of these buildings that have been properly maintained will not require a shutdown and only minimal maintenance, others will almost certainly require extensive shutdowns and maintenance undertaking.

Property managers, building owners and facility managers responsible for buildings forty years and older could opt for a proactive approach before an order comes through from the City.  Access Restoration Services utilizes a tested process driven by a team of highly skilled project managers, production coordinators and administrative professionals that can help building management plan and execute necessary inspections and repairs with a view to reduce the impact to the people who live and work in the building as much as possible.

By Jacob Westfell

Wireless public alerting has been with us for one year already! Since April 2018, the CRTC has mandated that all wireless service providers in Canada distribute emergency alerts sent from Canada’s national public alerting system, Alert Ready, to their subscribers.  These alerts are generated by emergency officials across Canada to warn the public of hazards such as fires, floods, abducted children, and other life threatening events.  Annual tests of the system, in May and November, were also introduced.  The first test of the new wireless alert system was conducted in May 2018 with mixed results.  Ontario and Quebec tested their systems first and ran into some difficulty with delivering the messages, but after adjustments were made, the provinces who tested later saw improved results.That first test did a good job of exposing areas of improvement, such as the need for consumers to update their device software to be compatible with the new alerting technology and to be connected to an LTE network.  At the time of the May 2018 tests, wireless providers were required to only ensure that half of their devices available for sale were compatible, and even that may still have required a software update by consumers.  As part of the public education campaign last year from the wireless providers, SMS text messages, which are a different technology than wireless alerts, were sent to wireless subscribers to announce the new wireless alerting capability and the upcoming test.  This lead to a misunderstanding that every customer who received this SMS text would also get a wireless alert.  Another test of the wireless alert system took place on May 8, 2019 and demonstrated a marked improvement in the operation of the system.  A survey conducted by Public Emergency Alerting Services Inc (PEASI), a company with extensive experience in public alerting in Canada, found that 80% of respondents received the wireless alert test message.  Television and radio continued to also be an important distribution channel for emergency alerts, while newer methods like social media and specialized mobile apps like Alertable were also seeing widespread use.  The two key areas of improvement from 2018’s test are now being addressed a year later.  The CRTC has mandated that 100 percent of new devices for sale by wireless providers be wireless public alert compatible.  As older, non-compatible phones are replaced, the system will reach more and more of the 31 million mobile subscribers in Canada. LTE network coverage, which is required to receive a wireless alert, continues to expand, with 99% of the population and 86% of major roads and highways now covered.  Despite those positive numbers, there are still underserved communities in Canada as we saw in Manitoba last year when a number of people failed to receive wireless emergency alerts on their phones because of no LTE coverage in their area.In addition to these annual public tests, the last year has seen the wireless emergency alert system used for actual emergencies.  Since April 2018 there have been 115 real emergency alerts sent by the wireless system across Canada, for life-threatening hazards such as fires, floods, and tornadoes.  Wireless emergency alerts have been credited with saving numerous lives including those who took shelter during tornado outbreaks last summer and abducted children who were rescued because a member of the public recognized them from an AMBER alert received by their phone.These actual alerts have also served to highlight further areas of improvement for the wireless alert system.  Authorities who issue alerts have continued to refine what their messages should say, and how often they send them out, after public complaints were received for several AMBER alerts in Ontario.  Uneven distribution of alerts has also been a concern, with some users in Manitoba being unable to receive a tornado alert in 2018, while other subscribers in Manitoba received an AMBER alert issued for Ontario.  Wireless service providers have responded with updated software and network changes to improve the targeting of alerts.The evidence so far is clear, the wireless emergency alert system in Canada has made significant improvements since its launch only a short time ago, saving lives across the country, and demonstrating that Canadians are safer today than they were last year.