Press Releases


Posted on: Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Emergency Management – Moving forward….


The profession of Emergency Management has often been defined by four specific elements – Mitigate, Plan, Respond and Recover.   At the Disaster Forum Conference held in Banff last May, (see feedback section below for more detail!) we were fortunate to have Mr. Ron Holton, Chief Risk Officer from University of British Columbia speak to us on Enterprise Risk Management.  He used his work with VANOC and the Olympic Games to highlight key elements of Enterprise Risk Management for us.


In his presentation, he suggested that we could add “Hazard/Risk Analysis” to our list of defining elements for what constitutes Emergency Management.  In other words, you need to know your risks before you can begin to mitigate them.  Hard to argue with him about that!   Ron gave an excellent presentation on how VANOC was able to manage all their risks – some 1,200 individual risks were listed – but their senior executive were able to look only at the top 25 and they developed 24 contingency plans.  Clearly – someone (or a lot of people) put a lot of thought into how they would define, deal with and “synthesize” their risks.   Once defined, they then were able to begin “the rest” of the process.  This saved them a lot of time, a lot of money and no doubt, a significant amount of high blood pressure!


When one looks at how large scale events have affected us, another issue we suggest that needs to be looked at it is the issue of Recovery.  Recovery from events can vary – but particularly in the case of large scale incidents, recovery time often far eclipses what our emergency and contingency plans allow for.  Case in point – Slave Lake – it is one year later and there are still many families living in temporary accommodation.  If you look at your plans, does your recovery phase anticipate a plus one year recovery phase???  Another case, Christchurch, New Zealand – over a year after the earthquake – entire sections of downtown were still fenced off – with no access to buildings due to the risk of collapse.  Imagine a large city losing an entire portion of its tax base!!??!!  Imagine your offices being located within that “hot/quake zone”??  Fukushima is another example of how large scale incidents can influence recovery for long, long time frames.


Recently, Hurricane Sandy “hit” the US north east coast.  The losses in human terms and property values are enormous – and still being calculated.  After one week parts of New York are still without electric power and there are serious supply issues relating to gasoline.   As a society, we all need to consider how well prepared each of is – personally and professionally, to be able to “live through” a large scale incident.  The 72 hour rule – having an emergency kit stocked with enough supplies to last 72 hours – needs to be considered in context.  With an incident like Hurricane Sandy, a one week kit is more appropriate.  That’s 168 hours – more than double the old 72 hour standard.


The point obviously being made is that emergency planning needs to be considered in a holistic sense – the all hazards approach is valid – but be sure to spend some time working on defining just what those hazards/risks are.  Putting a little thought into classifying and grouping these issues first can help focus your planning and help you work “smarter”.    Similarly, if your identified risks have the potential to affect you in the long term – make sure your recovery planning has taken this into account.    History has shown us that even if the probability is low, the high impact risks – well, they really do that…..




Disaster Forum Update:

Disaster Forum 2012 (May 11 – 14, 2012) is “in the can” and by all accounts, was a resounding success.

Feedback from DF 2012 surveys is in and we are thrilled to confirm the following ratings from delegates:

  •   97% rated us Good or Excellent  for Variety of Speakers
  •   97% rated us Good or Excellent on Quality of Speakers and Keynotes
  •  94 % rated us Good or Excellent on Relevance of Speaker Topics
  •  84 % rated us Good or Excellent in terms of Conference Value

General Hillier’s Keynote presentation (sponsored by ATCO), on “Leadership in Tough Times” rated 99% as GOOD or EXCELLENT – the highest speaker rating we have ever seen!

We are truly pleased with the above results and can confirm that planning for DF 2013 is well underway.  Our key note speaker is Dr. Vincent Covello – widely acknowledged to be one of the leaders in Crisis Communications in North America.

Keep watching our web site – www.disasterforum.ca for updates. Sponsorship information is available by contacting us at 800.718.3762.


ERMC News:

ERMC continues to evolve much as our clients evolve.  We find that our work moves forward our service evolve and move as well.

As an organization we have made some significant changes as well.  Paul Riopel has promoted himself to Chief Executive Officer.  As CEO, he will provide oversight to ERMC and will stay involved with clients and in maintaining ERMC’s presence with our clients.

Day to day operations are now the responsibility of Ed Wendlandt who has been promoted to President.  Previously, Ed was the Vice President of Consulting Services.  In his new role, he now oversees all operations within ERMC.

Bruce Hertz has been named Vice President, Business Development.  In his new role, he assumes responsibility for the overall sales and marketing for ERMC across all our markets.

From a client perspective, we are engaged in some very interesting and diverse projects including:

  • Developing an emergency management program for an international company with 42 distinct sites.  This includes developing risk assessments, ERP’s, training and exercising for all the sites.  We have also just completed our report to a client on a large full scale exercise – that was held in conjunction with mutual aid partners and regulators.
  • Developing a Hazard Risk & Vulnerability Assessment, a corporate crisis management program and a site specific Emergency Response Plan for a new Greenfield facility being constructed.
  • Conducting a tank farm fire fighting review for a two sites- one remote and one near a major municipality.

As with all our projects, we find the level of detail, the scope and involvement of partners, regulators and public scrutiny to be greater and greater.   In the area of communications, we have really seen a tremendous expansion to include the aspect of social media – monitoring, updating and content management being three core issues.

All of this means it is more and more important to ensure your plans, training and exercising are kept up to date.



ERMC Tips:

While we tend to be “captured” by the headlines of large scale events – the reality is that it is often the smaller scale innocuous events that most of us will be affected by.  With that in mind, we have included a few thoughts below…


  1. How would your office function if there was a burst water line in your building resulting in loss of use of your floor and all related functions for 5 days?
  2. What would happen if there was a gas line break near your offices – caused by construction– and resulted in you having to evacuate your entire building for 48 hours? Evacuate right now – not in 10 minutes, right now…..?
  3. What would be your organization’s reaction to protestors showing up and chaining themselves to your office doors to protest your activities – harming the environment, engaging in poor HR practices – whatever?  How would your staff react given that the protestors will have tipped off the media and there would be live coverage coupled with social media (Facebook/twitter etc.) discussion of the issue?


Thinking of these scenarios – what would your corporate response be?  How long would it take you to issue a press release?  Update your website?  Field calls from media, customers and family?   How will you update your call centre with accurate information for callers?  How long would it take you notify your customers of the problem and any effect it may have on your service?  Given that your building is inaccessible, where will you locate your EOC?

The above are just a few of the possible “local” events that can surprise us.  We have used the above scenarios to help other organizations run exercises in dealing with just such events.  If you need any help answering some of the above questions, please let us know – we really do know how to help!