Recent News

B.C. wildfires at a glance. Worst fire season in 60 years

ERMC had substantial presence in Regional and Provincial Operations Centers and provided extensive emergency response support during the 2017 Wildfires in British Columbia.

Wildfires have burned more than 1,000,000 hectares of BC’s forests this year.  Firefighting costs have cost more than $500 million since the start of the season.  At the height of the wildfires, nearly 50,000 people were forced to flee their homes

The 2017 fire season is notable for three reasons;  first, for the largest total area burnt in a fire season in recorded history, second, for the largest number of total evacuees in a fire season and third, for the largest single fire ever in British Columbia.

ERMC will continue to work with municipalities and Provincial Governments across Canada to mitigate the risk of Wildfires, and develop best practices for emergency response efforts in future scenarios such as these.  There is no possible way to eliminate the threat and vulnerabilities that natural disasters present, but the goal is to have the most comprehensive plan in place to mitigate the severity of the risk and speed up the recovery effort.



Sinkhole takes bite out of Japanese city

An article was posted on the 15- metre deep sinkhole emergency in downtown Fukouka, southern Japan.

“Parts of a main street collapsed in the heart of Fukuoka in southern Japan, creating a massive sinkhole and cutting off power, water and gas supplies to parts of the city. Stoplights and sidewalks tumbled more than 10 metres as the earth crumbled in downtown Fukuoka, which has a population of more than 1.5 million, snarling transport and disrupting power supply at an international airport.

Nobody was injured when the sinkhole opened with a boom shortly before dawn, but several multi-storey commercial buildings teetered dangerously at the edge of the abyss as it grew. By afternoon, the hole was 30 metres long and 15 metres deep, swallowing an entire four-lane intersection in the middle of the business district, and appeared to still be growing.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation, Fukuoka officials said, but they linked it to subway construction nearby. A smaller sinkhole occurred in Fukuoka in 2014 at another location of the subway construction. The incident prompted some residents to be forced out of nearby buildings. Officials were concerned that further erosion inside the sinkhole could prompt nearby structures to collapse.”

When unexpected situations like this arise, it is imperative that an emergency response plan is in place and steps are taken for crisis communications. ERMC can help you identify risks and develop plans unique to your organization. www.ermcglobal.com 1.800.718.3762




Tanker accident on QE2 in Alberta spills 15,000 liters of gasoline…

A single tanker accident has resulted ~15,000 liters of gasoline being spilled along the QE 2 highway in Alberta near Balzac (Jan 20, 2015). It appears that no one was injured in the accident (good news!) which has forced closure of the highway while crews clean up the spill. While the spill is unfortunate, it is hoped that the clean up will result in minimal environmental impacts.

This event gives us all an opportunity to think about our business continuity and building evacuation plans. Think about it – if a fire fighter or police officer walked into your business right now and said you have evacuate due to a tanker spill across the street or around the corner – oh, and you will be out for 5 days. What will you do? Do have an accurate head count of who is in and who is out? Do you have a go kit with contact phone numbers, office keys, passwords to your online systems that you can take? Do you have muster points that you can use? How will you contact your customers, your staff, your suppliers over the next 5 days? How often? what will you say? How will you maintain services to your customers? Do you have insurance for the clean up of your building if it is affected? How long will that take?

Risk management principles include understanding your hazards, their likelihood and their impact. Once understood, you can then plan for, train to and exercise your program to better manage emergency events – whatever the cause.

ERMC can help you identify and answer those questions – especially those unique to your organization. www.ermcglobal.com 1.800.718.3762

Town of Slave Lake Wildfire Recovery

The Town of Slave Lake has shared their reflections and wisdom from the recovery of the wildfires that hit in 2011.

The damage to the town was severe as many homes and businesses were lost and destroyed, “In the town 333 single family homes and 169 apartment units were destroyed as were three churches, ten businesses and a local radio station. The government centre, including provincial offices, the Town hall and the library, was lost as well. In the Municipal District, 56 homes and a fire hall were destroyed.”

The Town shares the importance of internal and external communication in the preparation and recovery from disasters such as these. They provide practices and procedures to rebuild town operations and neighborhoods, how to staff for recovery, the importance of interim housing, and what is involved in the cleanup process. Most importantly, they share how other communities can be prepared when unexpected disasters occur.

Click to learn more about the Town of Slave Lake recovery: Slave Lake Wisdom Gained

TSB Report – Lac Megantic

The National Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report relating the Lac Megantic tragedy from 2013 was released this week.  As usual – the TSB report is very detailed and comprehensive.   We have reviewed the report and while there are many good lessons outlined in the document, we thought we would focus in on one paragraph.

To save you some time – we quote from page 157 of the report:

4.3.2 Safety management system audits and essential follow-up

Managing risk to acceptable levels requires that railway companies analyze the findings of regulatory inspections and SMS audits, identify the underlying causes of these findings, and ensure that corrective actions are effectively implemented and are working. For railway companies to effectively manage risk using SMS, the related processes must not only be documented, they must be in place and actively used.


If we look at the wording in the above quote, we would suggest to you that we could substitute wording from ANY industry or sector of the economy in place of “railway companies”.   All organizations must prudently manage their risk.  Audits, (internal and external) coupled with effective processes that are “actively used” – plans, training, and exercises –  are essential not only to safety programs but crisis and emergency response programs as well.

We encourage all risk managers to review the TSB report – and when you do, try putting your name in the place of the railway/company.   See how you think you and your organization would rank when evaluating the key recommendations.

For additional information or support, please don’t hesitate to call.  Yes, we do audits and yes, we help organizations put in place crisis and emergency management programs.

ERMC – 1.800.718.3762 (ERMC)

Lac Megantic – One Year Later……

The town has not yet recovered fully and the trains are rolling again. Citizens who lived through the nightmare feel the ground shake and hear the train whistles and worry. This is the part of a disaster that is often forgotten when writing emergency response plans. How to help the people affected by the disaster. Emergency Social Services (ESS) is an essential but poorly understood part of emergency planning. And it is not just the responsibility of the government. Industries must be able and ready to help those affected by emergencies caused by their activities. Ensure that your plans include helping those affected long after the fire is out, the spill is cleaned up or the trains start running again.

ERMC has just completed an Emergency Social Services Plan AND a Regional Emergency Social Services Plan for the Town of High River and the surrounding communities.  This is Regional ESS Plan is one of the first in Alberta.   We incorporated a Reception Centre Manual with the ESS Plan.   Regardless of your organization, having a plan in place to help your people is a key requirement of your emergency management program.

Parkland County Provides Training Resource

Last year, Parkland County in Alberta Canada experienced a large train derailment and fire near the community of Gainford Alberta with 13 rail cars involved – and on fire.  Nine cares contained Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) and 4 cars with crude oil were involved.      The County has prepared an excellent video summarizing the incident and some of the lessons learned. you can access the view on YOU TUBE here:


Thank you to the County for their leadership in developing and sharing this video and the lesson learned!

If you are looking for help in validating your emergency and crisis communications  plans to deal with large scale events – give us a call – we can help!

Southern Alberta Floods – What should I do to protect myself?

Southern Alberta Floods…. What should I do to protect myself?

Understanding that floods can impact you is the first step.  We offer some suggestions for you to think about and incorporate into your own preparedness:

At home:

  1. Check your rain gutters/downspouts – make sure they are clear and drain well away (2 meters) from your house.
  2. Check your sump pump – make sure it is working and draining well away from your home
  3. If basement flooding is a risk move computers, family photos and keep sakes/valuables upstairs
  4. Pack a “go kit” or an “emergency kit” to take in case you have to evacuate.  Make sure to include medications, cash, identification, cell phone/computer power adapters, change of clothing, toiletries and family contact information.
  5. Know where emergency shelters are and how you will get to them.


At the Office:

  1. Check your organization’s emergency preparedness protocols.  Make sure you and your co workers know what the “plan is”.
  2. Check your building for flood risk.  Speak to the property manager/building operator to know what their plans say.
  3. Be aware of low lying areas and what your evacuation routes might be.
  4. Protect your people (work from home strategies?) and your assets – including your information technology – by planning in advance and securing your systems/data, your premises and inventories.
  5. Know how you will communicate with your staff and your customers from “off site” locations – during and after the event.

Why Do Municipalities Need to Know What Their Businesses Are up to?

On Saturday, June 15 at approximately 1300 hrs a warehouse in South-West Indianapolis, Indiana caught fire. Over two hundred fire fighters responded to the blaze and about 100 homes in the vicinity were evacuated. A second building was ignited as well. After eight hours the fire was declared under control. Not out but under control. People out and about in downtown Indianapolis speculated on many issues related to the blaze. What is in the building?  Initially, no one knew. It was several hours before it was discovered that the building housed a national recycling centre full of wooden pallets, used tires and other goods. This led to speculation of the effects of toxins in the smoke from the fire and its effects on people’s health. As the fire was in the city’s southwest, the same area as the international airport, there was further speculation that the airport would be shut down. It wasn’t. I had no involvement of any kind in the operation, I was just a visitor to the city.  So speaking as an observer of the event I can offer these observations and questions.

1.       Did the city’s emergency services know in advance what was in the building? It’s not a bad thing if the average citizen doesn’t have this information but it is essential for emergency services to know.

2.       Did the city’s emergency services have the ability to monitor the contents of the smoke from the fire? What technology does Indianapolis possess that will allow them to give good information to its’ citizens?

3.       Rumors are a fact of life. Social media was reporting on the incident almost as soon as the fire began. Social media is not always an accurate or reliable source of information. It is critical that the city get credible information out in order to protect public safety.

 4.       Pre-planning for such a large facility (400,000 ft2) is essential

It is only the morning after the event as I write this. Firefighters are still dousing hot spots. We will keep you posted on developments.

– Paul

For more information on the Indianapolis warehouse fire visit TheIndyChannel


Summer is Tornado Season in Alberta, Are You Prepared?

In the Canadian prairies, June is the onset of tornado season. The province of Alberta averages about 16 reported tornadoes per year. With the tragic events in that occurred in Moore, Oklahoma last month, it is important to re-assess our own level of preparedness for violent weather. Due to the relatively little advanced warning prior to the onset of a tornado, being prepared in advance is our best tool to minimize the risk posed by these dangerous storms.

Do you have any of the following?

  • A Family Emergency Plan
    • Designated shelter areas?
    • Backup modes of communication?
    • Designated meeting place if separated during the event?
  • Emergency Kit
    • At home?
    • At work?
    • In your car?
  • Insurance

For more information about tornadoes, warning systems and emergency preparedness, check out the Alberta Emergency Management Association’s manual here.