By Kathleen Brough

As a new young professional in the field of Emergency Management, it can be intimidating. The field is so vast, and at the same time, it seems like everyone knows each other and has their niche. Mentorship has been studied at length and is known to be extremely beneficial, especially for young professionals. In recognition of this, OAEM has been running a mentorship program for the past four years, with a growing number of mentor/mentee pairs each year. Through this opportunity, I was matched with a professional in the field who has upwards of a decade of experience in Emergency Management.

            I’m already an involved member of the Emergency Management community. I’m a member of DEMSA (the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association) at York University, and I’m also the student board member of OAEM. I was paired with someone I had met, someone who I respect for their constant efforts giving back to the program at York and to the community in general. She joked with me that I probably didn’t need a mentor, but that she was there for any questions I might have.

            Every mentor/mentee relationship is special and tailored to that pair. My mentor and I have spoken through email, we have also met up a few times when she invited me to networking events. She sends me emails checking in on me and reminding me that I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing – which as a stressed young professional, is always something I need to hear. Other mentor/mentee groups exchange emails or meet over coffee, it’s a flexible program that is meant to fill the needs of those involved. Both my mentor and I are social and busy people, this similarity works well for us to tailor our experience.

            Having a mentor means having someone you can reach out too. For me, my mentor is a go to when I have questions about a new experience, whether that be interviewing for jobs, going to a networking event or running for a new volunteer position. The mentor pairs were matched based on interests, experience and questions I had and I really feel like my mentor is a fantastic pairing for me. As a student, its easy to get overwhelmed and forget about why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s been so reassuring and helpful to have someone checking in on me and reminding me not only that I can do it, but that I am doing good work.

            My mentor has been a part of the mentorship program for a while, and you can tell she loves giving back. She is warm and welcoming, she is an accomplished professional, and she has a passion for mentorship. In the brief time I have been involved in the mentorship program, I have already learned so much. I have someone to look up to and to take advice from, which shows me a path, but also how I can make my own path.

By Rob Keller

It was a great pleasure to spend two days with some of the best emergency management practitioners in Ontario at the FEMA G290 Basic PIO course on May 1-2, 2019.  I’m very fortunate to train alongside some exceptional professionals.  When it comes to disasters, we’re all in this together and I look forward to continuing to work with my Canadian counterparts to make our respective communities safer and more resilient.

As you heard in my presentations, public information is a vital function in disaster operations that contributes greatly to saving lives and protecting property. The PIO entails the processes and systems that enable effective communications with various target audiences. The G290 training  provided you with the opportunity to learn and practice the tasks of gathering, verifying, coordinating, and disseminating public information at all levels.

Themes weaved throughout the series include the 95/5 concept and an emphasis on whole community strategic communication planning.

The 95/5 concept relates to non-emergency and emergency PIO activities – 95% of most PIOs’ work is in non-emergency times, with only 5% directly related to incident response or recovery. The activities a PIO chooses in non-emergency times (95%) has a significant impact on how successful he or she will be in the 5% spent in emergency response and recovery. This training focuses on both parts of the equation.

“If people don’t know what’s happening and what to do, then they are not going to respond accordingly.

Remember the three items that if you follow, you will be “spot on” when it comes to being transparent.

1.  Here’s what happened.
2.  Here’s what we are doing.
3.  Here’s what we want you to do.

The Public Information Officer (PIO) training program is designed to provide PIOs with the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities to support proper decision-making by delivering the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

An emergency situation brings together individuals belonging to many different organizations, representing different organizational cultures including different usage of language.  For me, the Basic PIO training in Toronto brought me to Canada to meet some new professional counterparts and friends.  I am also looking forward to the Basic PIO training in June.  According to Mr. Jason Reid at OAEM, the class is almost full, so be sure and register soon.

Have a safe journey my friends.

Rob Keller

Our Annual General Meeting is right around the corner. In anticipation of the election on May 15thhere are some of the candidates running for the new board. 

Lori Latendresse, MDEM, CBCA

Lori Latendresse has been working in Public Sector Health & Safety, Emergency Management and Business Continuity for over a decade. She currently works as the emergency planner and business continuity lead for Northumberland County, and is a part time Faculty member in the Emergency Management department at Fleming College.

Lori is passionate about ensuring that small and rural communities like her own, are not left out of the Emergency Management conversation, and that new EM initiatives are developed and delivered in a way that best meets the needs of the diverse communities in Ontario. Lori has been an involved member of OAEM for several years and has been an active mentor in the new professional program offered by OAEM for the past 4 years.  In 2018 Lori also volunteered her time as a moderator for DEMCON.  Lori is interested in becoming a voice on the OAEM board in order to help put the “O” into OAEM.

Patricia Martel, CEM, ABCP, Ph.D Candidate

Patricia Martel is an experienced emergency management practitioner and researcher with a passion for enhancing emergency management through the development and implementation of new research and recommended practices. She is nearing the completion of a PhD (May 2019) focused on enhancing emergency planning for schools and other facilities that host members of vulnerable populations. In addition to the PhD, she has a strong background in the sciences which has included research on natural hazards with a focus on severe weather and is an experienced storm chaser with more than 15 years of experience. Patricia has significant experience in the field of emergency management and has developed best practices in hazard identification and risk assessment, emergency planning for vulnerable groups, risk communication, and hazard monitoring protocols. She served as the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Officer for Emergency Management Ontario for +8 years. She was seconded to help with the refresh of the Ministry of Transportation Emergency Management Program in 2015.  Patricia now works as an Emergency Management Program Specialist with the Region of Niagara. She is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers and an ABCP through DRI International.

Patricia has experience working for provincial governments, the private sector and NGOs. While risk assessment is her primary passion, she has experience reviewing emergency management programs and providing recommendations that move them towards a more effective, proactive approach. She is currently the Vice President of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network; which aims to create an environment in which the hazards research, education and emergency management practitioner communities can effectively share knowledge and innovative approaches that reduce disaster vulnerability.

Brittany Murphy, MDEM

Brittany is a recent graduate of the Disaster and Emergency Management Bachelor’s program at York University.  During her time at York University, she worked very hard with her classmates and the faculty, to develop a student association at the undergraduate level (Undergraduates of Disaster and Emergency Management) to get students access to further training and learning opportunities.  She continues to work with students and faculty to foster a community, being a part of the recently created York University Disaster and Emergency Management Alumni Network, attending guest lectures and continuing as an advisor for the undergraduate association.

From graduation, she got her first job in the field with Public Safety Canada in the Ontario Region, participating in responses for many on reserve incidents, flooding, fires, and the influx of asylum seeking individuals into Canada during the summer of 2017.  From Public Safety, she spent 7 months with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories on the Port Hope Area Initiative project as an emergency preparedness co-op student and will soon be starting a position with Environment and Climate Change Canada working on services that can be used by emergency management practitioners.

She has always had a firm grasp of the importance of working together across levels of government, between the private and public sector, and across jurisdictions; this has been observed in her classroom experiences, in her work experiences, and in the events she has attended (Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, WCDM, DEMCON, etc).  Brittany has been serving on the interim as the Community Director for Ontario Association of Emergency Managers and would be delighted to continue on with the association.  She is dedicated to continuing to develop and foster a collaborative EM community in Ontario and would be delighted to continue serving with OAEM on the board of directors.

Katie Subbotina

My name is Katie Subbotina and it has been my pleasure to serve as an elected member of the OAEM Board of Directors for the past four years. I originally joined the organization as a student looking for a group representing the needs and the future of the Emergency Managers of Ontario. As my career grew my professional needs where changing and I was able to benefit firsthand from the great value that the association provides to its members and the profession. OAEM creates a forum for individuals entering the field to gain understanding of the profession and for existing professionals to further their knowledge, expertise and share their experience with their peers via various professional development and networking events. 

Throughout my tenure with OAEM, I held various positions with Treasurer being the most recent. As an active member of the board I thoroughly enjoyed working on a number of initiatives such as the development of the internal policies and procedures and a Mentorship Program. I have also assisted with hosting social gatherings as well as represented our organization at various community events. I am a passionate member of the Emergency Management field and it would be an honour to continue contributing my time and expertise to the growth and development of the organization.

Christina Baker, MDEM

Christina is an emergency management consultant involved with all phases of a number of strategic fire master planning studies, fire service reviews, community risk assessments and climate adaptation projects including stakeholder engagement, data collection and analysis, emergency response modelling, station location assessments, and the development of recommendations and implementation plans. She has coordinated the creation and implementation of municipal emergency and resilience related projects and has participated in the facilitation of various working groups in the risk assessment field with a variety of stakeholder. Christina has also participated in implementing measures to meet government legislature in the municipal setting, and has proactively built and maintained professional relations with business, government, and NGO stakeholders. She is passionate about emergency management and working closely with communities to towards resilience. 

She holds a Master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management from York University and has had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors as Secretary for the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers in the interim. 

Christina would like to further the association’s commitment to serving and advocating for emergency management professionals throughout all of Ontario. 

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.