By Joe Gagliano


There’s no doubt the commercial landscape has changed. Industries and businesses are under tremendous pressure. Shutting down operations for a few weeks or even a few days is simply not an option.

Today, disaster recovery and restoration mean it’s imperative we work quickly and closely with our clients to reduce downtime or avoid it altogether. Insurance contractors need to offer flexible mitigation planning and scheduling to respond to the needs of their clients. 

Our aim is to get a business back to normal as quickly as possible. To do this we often work directly with a company’s employees in the planning phase. That planning often starts even before disaster strikes. We encourage companies to take precautions beforehand to reduce the impact of any potential disaster. We give them a checklist. 

Pre-disaster planning is paramount to ensuring the quickest, safest and most cost-effective restoration work. No one wants to spend money on pre-planning. I get that. Yet being proactive is better than taking a bigger financial hit from a disaster later.

A lesson learned from the Fort McMurry Fire

The wildfire that started southwest of Fort McMurray, Alta., in May 2016 showed how vitally important pre-planning can be for the restoration industry and the people directly affected. Almost 90,000 people had to evacuate the community, making it the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta history. Destroyed were 2,400 homes and buildings, and the damage ran into the billions of dollars, the costliest disaster in Canadian history.

Due to a lack of planning, certain response crews left the area almost as quickly as they arrived when they realized they weren’t prepared for the danger of working in that hostile environment. They weren’t prepared to handle the heavy toxic metals released into the environment by the fire. 

Expertise is also the name of the game

We’re realizing that expertise in the restoration industry is everything. Knowledge and experience are often missing in restoration efforts, especially in less populous regions. At Access Restoration Services (ARS), our highly qualified, specialized operations managers can be anywhere in the world within hours. Their expertise is of tremendous benefit in recovery efforts in sparsely-populated communities.

Local communities may not always need emergency vehicles. But they do need direction and leadership. Experience and knowledge in crucial situations can dramatically improve the speed and effectiveness of getting properties back to their original condition and people back on track.

ARS is a proud leader in disaster mitigation and property restoration. The company provides restoration services for water, fire and storm damage. ARS has its head office in Toronto and has six other locations throughout Ontario. It also has offices in Calgary and Fort Lauderdale, and is expanding into British Columbia and the East Coast. 

To learn more about ARS, visit our web site at

Joe Gagliano is president of Access Restoration Services Ltd

By Jude Kelly

The next time you attend an industry or emergency management conference or meeting, take a look around you, then ask yourself: What is the make up of the folks in the room and how diverse is the audience?

In most cases, our industry, as a group, is not that diverse. But if new people are going to consider emergency management as a career, they need to see more people of colour and women working and thriving in the profession.

One visionary Washington, D.C. organization is working hard to change that dynamic. The Black Emergency Managers Association International (BEMA) has members in the U.S., Central & South America, Caribbean, Haiti, Middle East, Pacific Rim, Great Britain, France, and many African nations.  

Globally, BEMA is advancing the EM profession by providing information, networking, educational & professional development opportunities and awareness to African-American, African-descent, Latino, and disenfranchised communities, including emergency managers, elementary, middle and high schools, college & university students, and community leaders.

“We’re not just exclusive to African-Americans,”says BEMA founder and president, Charles Sharp, “We’re totally inclusive–  anyone can be a member of BEMA not just homeland security and emergency management professionals, but members of the community and grass-roots organizations who want to promote the profession and address all phases of disasters.”

Our mission is to get more disadvantaged communities into the profession of emergency management and homeland security, says Sharp, adding that these are the communities that recover the longest when disasters strike.

To help celebrate Emergency Preparedness Week(May 5-11), Sharp will be in Toronto on May 3 to give a presentation at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre, where he’ll be accompanied by three private-sector members from BEMA International:  Mark Dozier, President of Critical Path Solutions, Marcellus Wade and Ms. Ayanna Moo-Young, President and Vice President, respectively, of Black Fox Group located in the Washington, D.C. area. The group will provide an overview of BEMA including possible plans to start a BEMA Canada chapter.

BEMA was founded in 2010 to meet the needs of disaster-affected communities.  Like the community of New Orleans that was devastated by the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the communities of Haiti which was shattered from an earthquake in 2010. With two professionals in emergency management and Mr. Sharp, BEMA International was conceived to meet the needs of minority professionals and communities in emergency management. The founders recognized that ethnic groups worldwide are often left out of the long-term planning when it comes to emergencies.

“(Emergencies are) something a lot of people in ethnic communities don’t plan for – and this is a world-wide problem,” Sharp says.  “These communities are in a constant state of emergency 24/7 from sun-up to sun-up for basic needs in housing, water & food, and financial sustainability.  Inclusion is the main reason we were formed: to ensure that the whole community, everyone in the community, is involved.”

The African-American community’s participation in emergency planning and alot of other areas is sometimes practically zero, Sharp explains.“That’s one of our initiatives– to get not only the black community but other community organizations, faith-based organizations, First Nations, Hispanic and Asian communities involved in emergency planning.”

Promoting more inclusion for people of colour and women, does not mean exclusion of everyone else. Everyone benefits when all segments of society contribute to keeping all communities safe, protected and resilient.

Do you have new ideas on how OAEM can better serve the EM community? Are you looking to get involved? OAEM wants you!

The OAEM is calling for candidates for its upcoming annual Board elections (May 15th), a platform for participants to share their unique ideas and skills with the membership. 

OAEM is looking for new Board Members who will serve from 2019-2021. If you would like to submit an application, please send a 250-400 word Statement of Interest and a copy of your Resume to no later than May 8th, 2019.

Please note, you need to be an OAEM Member to apply. If you are not, please sign up here

We look forward to your applications!

AGM 2019 Flyer

By Jean-Guy Rens
(CATA Alliance – ScienceTech Comms)

More than 70% of Canadian manufacturing companies are entirely or partially automated: this is the evidence brought out by the 2017 CATA study[1]. And a growing number of these companies have interconnected their automated devices to their IT systems to extract “big data” and control production in real time often in wireless mode. As a result, IT moves to the heart of the production chain. This phenomenon is called Industry 4.0 or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

But then an unexpected discovery was made. Automated companies realized that often the critical automation equipment purchased was unsafe. One example among others. A company that had purchased sensors in large numbers discovered that the devices came with a prerecorded password that was available on the Internet. When this company wanted to remedy the problem by programming a safe password, the memory was too limited to accept the change. Many wireless devices, even robot systems, are designed without any cybersecurity protection. 

The result of the general trend toward automation and Industry 4.0 is increased exposure to cybercrime. Each deficient sensor, automation equipment or robotic system opens a door to hackers of all kinds. Even CCTV cameras are used by the criminals of the web to accomplish their misdeeds. Ultimately, the entire Internet network can be affected. We remember that in 2016, a simple denial of service attack had brought down a large part of the network in the United States and Europe. It was only an alert. The next step could be more serious.

That’s not all, cybersecurity damages are not confined to the computer world. With Industry 4.0, it can spread to our physical environment. When the attacked company operates a critical infrastructure – a power grid, a railway, a bank, a hospital, a laboratory and so on – the damage can quickly turn into a disaster by what is called the cascade effect. If the power supply is interrupted in a given territory, it is all aspects of the economic and social life that can be paralyzed: water service, gas stations, etc. 

The 2019 Cybersecurity Initiative

It is to assess the state of readiness of the automated manufacturing industry as well as critical infrastructures in Canada that the CATA Alliance has undertaken a focused study on the cybersecurity measures deployed. It is not so much to count the technical solutions set up as to study the governance of cybersecurity: adoption of a formal cybersecurity program, appointment of a chief of information security officer (CISO), compliance with regulations, scope of the financial means allocated, etc.

CATA’s third cybersecurity initiative – Cybersecurity in a Digitized Environment– Intends to show how industry and infrastructure leaders are adopting a common cybersecurity culture. It intends to document strengths and weaknesses and promote existing government and international organizations dedicated to cybersecurity.

The profile of cybersecurity in the Canadian manufacturing sector and critical infrastructures organizations will be detailed by various means:

  • A survey of Canadian automated corporations and public utilities. The firms contacted in 2017 regarding the Advanced Manufacturing Sectorstudy will be contacted again to discuss cybersecurity. Critical infrastructure organizations will be added. All in all, about 2,500 organizations will be contacted.
  • A series of about 20 one-on-one interviews of cybersecurity specialists (infrastructure and manufacturing executives, academics, consultants, governments).
  • Halfway roundtable. Study partners and corporate managers will be invited to comment raw results before the report is finalized. The proceedings of the roundtable will be integrated in the final report.
  • At the end of the study, two workshops will be organized in Montreal and Toronto in April 2019 aimed at manufacturing and infrastructure leaders.

Cybersecurity is a team effort. CATA Alliance invites emergency management professionals to take 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Results of the survey will be available April 2019. If you have any questions, please contact Huguette Guilhaumon 514-656-3254 or

Link to survey:

[1]Advanced Manufacturing Sector: Initiative on the automation of the manufacturing sector in Canada, Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), Montreal, April 2017. 

By Michel C. Doré, MStJ, PhD, B.Sc.N., PCP, CEM, CGU

Since 2006 the emergency management practitioners in Quebec have regrouped within theAssociation de sécurité civile du Québec ( Strong of its 285 members, the association represents the emergency managers with governments, municipalities, educational institutions and other organisations. 

Among its activities, ASCQ manages a provincial EM professional certification program, organises conferences and webinars. The ASCQ partners every year with RECO Quebec, our business continuity association ( and CRAIM, our industrial accident prevention council ( to organise an emergency management exhibition in conjunction with the Colloque de la sécurité civile du Québec, our provincial EM conference.

To foster partnerships among the emergency management/search and rescue volunteer groups, ASCQ organises, since 2015, various training activities and full scale exercises (video). These activities involve volunteers from Saint-John Ambulance, Salvation Army, Canadian Red Cross, Association des bénévoles en recherche et sauvetage du Québec, Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, Sauvetage et recherche aériens du Québec and the Radio-Amateur Québec inc.

We are currently planning the 2019 edition of our Rendez-vousin the Ottawa region. We hope to mobilise the volunteers from both Quebec and Ontario to respond to a joint event happening simultaneously on both sides of the Ottawa River. Both the cities of Gatineau and Ottawa support this upcoming exercise.

By Christina Baker

As members of a collective professional association it is important that our membership as well as our invested time and money translate into benefits that will directly enhance our abilities and awareness as professionals as well as benefit the communities in which we live and work. When asked about how emergency management professionals benefit from a membership with the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM), Jason Reid (Professional Development Coordinator) responded, “The answer is in the mission”.

One of the core components of the OAEM mission “to enhance our profession by offering opportunities for professional development, advocacy, mentoring, community collaboration and networking” is professional development. Professional development is a crucial element to the emergency management profession, not only in supporting our current roles, but also as part of longer term career development and in furthering the field in which we operate.

The effectiveness of professional development requires thoughtful planning and execution and OAEM has committed itself to providing events in order to offer its members and all participants valuable learning experiences and unique opportunities that will enhance their knowledge base and skill sets.

To kick-off the New Year, OAEM and the Institution of Fire Engineers have teamed up in an effort to bring together professionals from the diverse field of emergency management to discuss barn fires emergency preparedness and recovery “After the Fire”, vehicle accidents involving livestock, the management of deadstock and emergency response. A common theme among these presentations were lessons learned, future improvement, and the release of a new initiative involving First Responder Safety.

From every incident or emergency event, there are lessons to be learned that if given attention have the potential to improve upon the outcome of the next incident. The application of lessons learned to emergency management programs, emergency exercises, and training initiatives enables us as to improve our preparedness for future scenarios, create safer communities in which we live and work as well as strengthen our abilities as emergency professionals based on our collective past experiences. The below links are the highlights from our most recent PD session.

Barn Fire

Disposing of livestock

Cattle Truck rollover

Please join us March 1st at our next event “Specialized Teams in Emergency Management” as we embark on this exciting professional development endeavour.

Key Survey Findings: Perceived Benefit & Willingness to Uptake Membership in a Professional Association for Emergency Managers

By Moira Hennebury

The biggest challenge in growing membership is articulating the value proposition. Cognizant that students and recent graduates represent the largest growing prospective member base of any professional association, I sought to understand the perceived benefit, expectations, willingness, and ability of this population group to uptake membership in an association for emergency management professionals. 

It must be stated that while I am a member of several professional associations, I do not serve on any board or committee. I decided to undertake this small project because I believe today’s students and recent graduates have the tools, courage, and motivation to effect great change. Young professionals offer a rich and diverse knowledge base, flexibility, and a commitment to innovation. This cannot be overstated. Our generation will have a powerful and transformative impact on the trajectory of emergency management.  

To gather the perspectives of students and recent graduates, I conducted a short online survey from January 25 to 30, 2019. Participation in the survey was voluntary and allowed respondents to maintain their anonymity. The survey was intended for current undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional certificate students and recent graduates of an emergency management or a related program in Ontario. The survey had an organic reach of 54 responses in five days. The level of positive engagement demonstrates that students and recent graduates can identify and articulate a clear set of expectations as prospective members.

Curiously, relatively few respondents currently hold membership in either of the two most prominent associations for emergency management professionals. Of the 54 total respondents, only 35% (19) were members of the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM). Of the respondents who are not presently members, nearly half had once held membership with the association. This statistic underscores the challenge of member retention. 

Membership in the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM-Canada) was similarly low for the population surveyed. Of the 54 respondents, only 26% (14) were current members of the IAEM. 15% of non-members once held membership.

I was curious to understand why membership was remarkably low despite the fact that both associations offer free or reduced member rates for students. There is a longstanding perception that cost is the primary factor in a student or recent graduate’s decision to uptake membership in a professional association. This perception was challenged by the survey results. In fact, the results show a myriad of factors relating to both ability and willingness to uptake membership. The most frequently cited reasons for not choosing to uptake membership in either association are summarized in the table below.

It is interesting to note that a difference in the perceived value of membership between OAEM and IAEM-Canada was not distinguishable. For both OAEM and IAEM-Canada members, the average overall perceived value of membership was rated 3 out of 5. 

Despite low membership uptake and average levels of perceived value, opportunities for improved engagement exist for both associations. For instance, 5.7% of OAEM non-members indicated that they intend on becoming a member in 2019, while 34.3% more are undecided. The outlook was similarly positive for the IAEM-Canada. 7.5% of non-members indicated that they intend on becoming a member in 2019 and 47.5% are undecided. 

It is my hope that the survey results enclosed will serve as a call to action. 

Students and recent graduates are drawn to professional development activities that allow them to expand their competencies and skill set. Moreover, they are interested in opportunities that will allow them to guide and shape the future of emergency management. The most important benefits of membership in a professional association are ranked below. This survey section was mandatory for all 54 respondents. Respondents were asked to rank each benefit from 1 to 5, with 1 representing “not important” and 5 representing “very important”. The percentage assigned to each benefit category indicates the total percentage of respondents who indicated the benefit was either “important” or “very important” to them.

  1. Continuing education (e.g. multi-day courses) 87.0%
  2. Professional development events (e.g. workshops and webinars) 83.3%
  3. Formal networking events (e.g. roundtables on emerging issues) 81.5%
  4. Access to a job board 77.8%
  5. Access to conferences 70.4%
  6. Access to exclusive “member’s only” content or resources 61.1%
  7. The ability to join committees or special interest workgroups 55.6%
  8. Access to a mentorship program 53.7%
  9. Access to discounted products and services 51.2%
  10. Access to informal networking events (e.g. dinners, galas) 48.1%
  11. Opportunities to receive feedback on your resume 40.1%

It is my hope that this undertaking allowed participants to think deeply about their role and commitment to both personal and professional growth as emergency managers. I am encouraged by the conversation this survey has evoked and I look forward to how this discussion can be operationalized to both increase member engagement and deliver a better end product to current and prospective members. 

Thank you to all who participated.

Author Notes:

This survey allowed respondents to maintain their anonymity. A benefit of this method is that it encourages respondents to provide truthful responses. Several disadvantages of this approach exist, including potential for unconscientious responses, the potential for respondents to exercise a hidden agenda, and inability to verify respondents as appropriate candidates for the survey. This document contains a summary of survey responses. Please contact if you wish to receive a copy of the full raw data including long answers.

The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) provides students in post-secondary certificate, diploma, degree or master programs in emergency management with the opportunity to receive an award to recognize their achievements during each academic year.

Awards are available in the following categories:

  1. The Brian Hook Memorial AwardHonours the memory of Major Brian Hook (CD) through making an award to a student who has made significant contributions to the field of Emergency Management while maintaining a high level of academic excellence. ($1,500)
  2. A. Normand Academic Award – Students will submit a 1,200 – 1,500-word essay on any topic relating to emergency management and business continuity. All essays must include an abstract and APA formatting. ($1,000)
  3. President’s Award – This award will go to a professional who has gone back to school to study emergency management/business continuity in order to upgrade/change their profession. This will be based on their grade point average (GPA) and any contributions they have made to the field. ($500)

The deadline for applications is Friday April 12th, 2019 and the award presentations will be made at the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers’ Annual General Meeting on May 15th 2019 at Centennial College in Scarborough, ON.

Completed application forms and supplementary documentation should be sent by email before the deadline to All applications are reviewed by the OAEM Board of Directors and the OAEM Awards Committee, who will then decide on the award winners.

We look forward to receiving applications for these prestigious and well-respected awards. If you have any questions about the awards, please email Good luck!