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.

By Sean Maraj

It’s a little known fact you don’t win elections on the environment or spending money on disaster mitigation projects. Don’t believe me? Ask former Liberal leader Stephane Dion about how far you get using the environment as your showpiece election policy, or take a look at Manitoba Premier Dufferin Roblin who was pretty much run out of office in the mid 1960’s for his crazy idea of building what would eventually be the Red River Floodway. A quick look at these two cases and you’ll see the political dangers of hooking your wagon to issues people like to be concerned about but don’t really want to pay for.

But perhaps the time has come for us to face a hard truth – we’re losing the environmental war. Through a combination of inaction and ignorance a concrete long lasting policy approach on climate change remains elusive and the impact will likely be with us for a very long time to come. As the climate changes, natural disaster events ranging from floods to droughts and their associated costs continue to rise – anyone living along a river in Ontario or New Brunswick will be happy to tell you all about it. In 2018 alone, the Insurance Bureau of Canada noted that climate related disasters cost $1.9 billion in insurable damage. The Federal Government’s Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements Program put in $4 billion since its inception in the 1970s to help with disaster recovery bills, but perhaps the most striking aspect of that is $1.8 billion of that money has been paid out since 2010.  Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, there is a real financial cost when it comes to climate change and it isn’t just what we have to pay to gas up our cars.

The current Liberal government’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change represents a first step in directly linking environmental policy to Infrastructure Canada programs like the Disaster Mitigation Adaptation Fund (DMAF). Considering the increasing impact climate related disasters are having throughout the country perhaps a more aggressive approach should be taken. For instance, the controversial federal carbon tax is meant to be revenue neutral while at the same time ensuring “polluters pay”. Its inherent goal is to create a situation where people and companies reduce their carbon footprint to save money. Perhaps the tax should be repurposed where some or all of the proceeds are funneled directly to programs like the DMAF. Instead of calling it a “Carbon Tax”, change the name to something like the Climate Disaster Mitigation Tax meant to build safer and more resilient communities in the face of climate change effects. In the long term this could help lower costs and save lives and, who knows, it might even be less controversial as a public policy.

By Brittany Murphy

On behalf of your incoming Board of Directors, we wanted to provide an update on the results of our Annual General Meeting on May 15 and outline an idea of what to expect in the coming months.

OAEM 2019-2020 Board of Directors

A major topic discussed at the AGM was the progress of our profession in the Province of Ontario and the importance of working together to reach our shared goals.  A fantastic piece on this was written by our introductory remarks speaker, Alain Normand, and can be found here  We then heard from the President of the new International Association of Emergency Managers – Ontario Region.  We are excited for our collaborative efforts with IAEM, and other partners in Ontario, in the future to continue to strengthen and enhance the field in the province and continue being leaders in Emergency Management.

The elections for the Board of Directors concluded the AGM, and we would like to share the results with you.  We saw the re-election of Jason Reid and Katie Subbotina, the election of Brittany Murphy and Christina Baker, who have been serving on the board on an interim basis, as well as the election of Patricia Martel, Jason Swaye, and Lori Latendresse, some incredibly passionate members who have served as mentors or who have been active participants at OAEM events.  We extend our thanks to those who concluded serving the board with this AGM and we appreciate the work you have done for the association and the profession in the field of Ontario.

We are pleased to announce that, for the first time in OAEM history, we have an all-female executive team.

  • Katie Subbotina, President
  • Nicole Pinto, Vice President
  • Lori Latendresse, Treasurer
  • Christina Baker, Secretary

In addition to the executive, the Board of Directors is majority female, with a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds represented on the board. We have the following individuals taking on the leadership roles for the association:

  • Patricia Martel, Community Director
  • Brittany Murphy, Communications Director
  • Jason Reid, Professional Development Director
  • Mike O’Brien, DEMCON Director
  • Paul Hassanally, Projects Director
  • Jason Swaye, Membership Director

The board of directors has professionals with education ranging from certificates to doctorates, representatives from the public and the private sector with NGO exposure, with an assortment of cultural and experiential backgrounds.  OAEM is proud to be the home for Ontario Emergency Management Community and we are proud our board of directors is representative of that diversity.  With this change in executive, we’d like to take the time to extendthanks to Mike O’Brien for his years of service as the President of the association and all that he has accomplished in the role.  

Finally, we would like to reassure you that the work at OAEM continues as usual and we have the following events to look forward to:

  • An updated Board of Directors page with information about the directors
  • Further building of community, with continued efforts to engage partners outside of the GTA in the north and east of Ontario
  • CSA Z1600 – Emergency Management and Business Continuity Standard Course in Ottawa on June 13 and 14
  • G290 Basic Public Information Officer FEMA Certified Program in Toronto on June 18 and 19
  • DEMCON at the International Centre in Mississauga on October 9 and 10
  • Reinstatement of newsletter communications

As the field of emergency management is changing, we are proud that our board is changing with it and representative of emergency management professionals in the province of Ontario, and we look forward to serving you and working with you.  If you have ideas for training, experience opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact us so we can discuss what is possible!

By Alain Normand

Emergency Management is making history in Ontario. As I look back over the last two decades or so, I see that we have gone from being emergency planners to emergency management professionals. I see this progression as comparable to starting with a Ford Model T in the late 1990s and moving to a mid-size car today. We are not yet at the luxury or sports car stage. I would love to see us in a DeLorean like the one in the movie Back to the Future, but there is still a lot to do to get there.

So how does this happen? We explored it a bit together at the OAEM AGM on May 15. We looked back and examined what steps we took in our goal to become a profession. 

  • We created associations to gain strength in numbers and have a voice at various committees where the work our members do is being discussed. 
  • We planned for the succession by creating university and college programs.
  • We encouraged research and development mostly through academic institutions. 
  • We pushed for legislation and we developed standards. 
  • We lobbied for tools such as the Alert Ready system. 
  • We held conferences, seminars, and workshops to help us gain insight into new ways of doing our work. 
  • We stood back after each emergency and disaster and examined how we responded, then shared our findings with our peers. 

We did a lot of things right.  I ask, however, if that is sufficient to consider ourselves members of a profession?

Looking at what defines a profession here are some of the main elements that are typically referred to:

  • Body of knowledge
  • Standard of practice
  • Research and development
  • Specialized education
  • Acquired skills
  • Service to society
  • Protection of the public
  • Rewards from service rather than money
  • Internal organization of members

I can proudly confirm that we have all of these to various degrees. It goes on however:

  • Code of conduct
  • Accreditation, licensing and examination

When you look at engineers, if one of the certified members does something contrary to the practice, that member can be stripped of the certification. The same goes for nurses, doctors, or lawyers. We need a code of conduct that will lead to having a group of people watching out for compliance to it. We need a board having the authority to discipline a member or even remove an accreditation. Only then can we truly say that we protect the public as a profession. Currently, protection of the public is a general statement endorsed by most professionals in emergency management, but it is not embedded in any regulation.

Accreditation exists but it is not widely recognized; it is not a requirement for holding a position. You would never hire a medical professional without an accreditation so why would we hire an emergency manager if that person were not accredited; especially if our mission is the protection of the public. That is an area where we have a lot of work to do.

We are also missing:

  • Representation
  • Identity

When people ask us what we do, we have to go into a long explanation to ensure people understand. Police officers, firefighters, or paramedics don’t have to explain what they do. Their title is sufficient. When will we come to a point when an emergency manager will only need to state his or her title for people to nod and appreciate who we are? In the National Occupational Classification, emergency managers are not even considered as a class in itself. We are grouped under senior government official, other managers in public administration, or administrative officers. Neither of these classifications fully fits our profession. 

We need to market ourselves, sit at the table with other key agencies such as police chiefs, fire chiefs, public health officials, politicians, NGOs, insurance experts, and scientist so they can all understand who we are, what we do, and where we fit. We often speak of the tri-service but a car with three wheels doesn’t work well. Emergency Managers are the fourth wheel in a balanced vehicle aiming for the safety of citizens. It is time we pump air into that tire and bring it to the same pressure as the other three wheels.

There are things we do well and OAEM has been there to provide training, networking, mentoring and promotion within the profession. IAEM has a certification system, the CEM. The new executive of IAEM has identified advocacy and representation as their key role. CRHNet brings in a strong research and development focus as well as a good link between the academics and practitioners. All of this needs to go on.

We are at a turning point in the history of our profession in Canada. This is not a time for competition. Now the various organizations need to work together jointly on those missing pieces to turn our mid-sized car into a luxury car. 

In the meantime, I will continue to push for the DeLorean.

A pause to look back, look sideways, and look forward


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

About the Awards:

Brian Hook Memorial Award: 

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

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

A Normand Academic Award:

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

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

President’s Award: 

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

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


Brian Hook Memorial Award Winner: Marie-Eve Bastien from York University

Marie-Eve Bastien is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management at York University. Previously, she received her B.A. in International Development from McGill University. During her last semester, she went to study in New Zealand where she had the chance to see the 2011 Christchurch earthquake’s damages. This is where her interest in disaster and emergency management sparked. She then worked as a screening officer at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, where the security and safety mindset became part of her daily life. Marie-Eve embraced her transition to Toronto in the Fall by becoming involved in her new Emergency Management community. She decided to run for the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association (DEMSA) and was subsequently elected as President. Under this function, she has concurrently organized and planned multiple educational events, namely IMS 200 training, BEM training, Crisis Communications workshops, and other social events. She is also volunteering as a Personal Disaster Assistance Responder for the Canadian Red Cross. This summer, Marie-Eve is travelling to Istanbul for an internship at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Hub where she will work for the disaster risk reduction and energy portfolio. Marie-Eve hopes to deepen her understanding of Disaster and Emergency Management through this international experience.

Marie-Eve Bastien

A. Normand Academic Award Winner:Brady Podloski from York University

Brady Podloski is a first year Masters Student in Disaster and Emergency Management at York University. In his first semester, Brady joined the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association (DEMSA) as the Alumni and Faculty Liaison and Logistics Officer (shared responsibility). Additionally, Brady works at York University’s, Office of Emergency Management as an Emergency Management Assistant, where he was the lead researcher for the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, analyzing the Explosion/Fire and HAZMAT vulnerabilities and their frequencies for the University. Brady is currently working on completing a Major Research Paper (Master’s Thesis), where he is analyzing and clarifying the complexity within the topic of rising sea level displacement. He seeks to produce new and significant research for this topic that may assist managers and policy makers in the future. Brady also works as a Research Assistant for the ARGUS: Radar-based All-Weather Roadway Safety System Project. His role in the project is to assist with the research and analysis of the factors that contribute to vehicle collisions with first responders while outside of their vehicles.

Recently, Brady took part in the University of Geneva’s Volcanic Risk Management program where he was able to learn about various volcanic hazards and then participated in a field study working with volcanic scientists and gaining hands on experience.

Brady Podloski

President’s Award Winner:Stephanie Roy from Algonquin College

Stephanie’s interest in emergency management took root when she began her career in Office Administration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES). After completing her first contract with AFFES, Stephanie was able to acquire a permanent position working at the MNRF Cochrane District office. While in Cochrane, Stephanie has completed many training opportunities offered through Emergency Management Ontario and Algonquin College’s Emergency Management program. Stephanie’s passion for emergency management led to her participation on the Cochrane District Emergency Response Team and in the annual river surveillance flights for Northern Ontario communities. Additionally, Stephanie completes annual reviews and revisions to the District’s Emergency Response and Continuity of Operations plans. Also, to further develop her operational experience in Emergency Management, Stephanie completed an acting assignment working in the MNRF’s Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC) in Sault Ste. Marie for the 2018 flood and fire season. Stephanie’s devotion to the field of emergency management continues to grow as she pursues further education in this field and hopes to one day have a permanent career in Emergency Management with the MNRF.

Stephanie Roy

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