Keep in Touch !

January 4, 2015 Leave a comment


Categories: Emergency Management


October 9, 2014 1 comment


Here’s an emergency response team that is keeping with our times of social media and instant communications when people need information most.

CanVost is building a Canadian coast-to-coast-to-coast network of emergency managers, first responders and volunteers that can help gather virtually and assist emergency management organizations, municipalities and agencies (such as the Red Cross, 2-1-1 and others) when disasters strike.

Key functions include:

  • monitoring social media for reputational threats and enhanced situational awareness
  • engaging on social networks on behalf of, and with the key messaging provided by, the activating agency/organization,
  • acting as liaison with the Volunteer Technical Communities who provide crowdsourcing and
  • crisis mapping support during disasters or exercises (such as Standby Task Force, CrisisCommons and Crisis Mappers).

For more information, join the discussion at PTSC-Online (Partnerships Towards Safer Communities)

Canadian Red Cross Command Post Units

August 14, 2014 Leave a comment


Canadian Red Cross prepares Command Post trailers for use across Ontario when people are at risk and most vulnerable.The Muskoka/Simcoe Disaster Management Teams are participating in the conversion of 6 Red Cross 24 foot trailers to be fully functioning communication and planning units. The trailers will have the capacity for wireless internet, generate its own electric and solar power to operate dependently and/or remotely during an emergency operation. The project is expected to be completed by the end of September 2014.

Categories: Emergency Management

An Emergency Communications Shortfall: Elliott Lake Mall Collapse

November 13, 2013 Leave a comment

The Elliott Lake Public Inquiry is getting it correct. Much of the frustration both Elliott Lake community members and the broader Ontario audience experienced, resulted from lack of implementing an up-to-date emergency communications strategy.

As the preliminary findings of the public inquiry indicate, there was not skilled communications personnel on site or on the emergency response team in the Elliott Lake community when needed most…at the onset, during the response, and in the recovery of this disaster.

Both municipal governments and emergency managers need to take note of these findings. Your reputation is at stake when you fail to meet the fast paced demands by the community when such incidents occur.

Gone are the days of ‘issuing a news release’ and all will be well. The convergence of social media and smart phone technology has thrown the media cycle timetable out the door with yesterday’s trash. Sadly, local government, emergency managers and much of the broader emergency response community have still to learn this simple truth.

I’m posting the following CBC North news clip for your reference…it’s well worth a listen!

Commission of inquiry back in Elliot Lake

The Elliot Lake public inquiry is back in session. It was hearing suggestions on how to improve emergency response in Ontario. The CBC’s Megan Thomas has been following developments and joined us in studio for an update. Listen  (runs 7:12)

Categories: Emergency Management

Creating a Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management Unit

January 24, 2012 3 comments

What do you do when you live in an area where pagers won’t work?

That’s what the newly formed Canadian Red Cross Muskoka-West Parry Sound Disaster Management team faced as we geared up operations.

Beautiful lakes, small towns, rock and trees makes this area desirable but not the best for traditional emergency call out systems for the Red Cross. Stephen Dubois, Disaster Management volunteer came up with up with a creative solution of ‘‘, a response communications system designed specifically for first responders.

With, you are able to:

  • Know immediately if you have volunteers on the way, or if you need to contact additional personnel;
  • Know who is responding to the callout, to the scene or any other location; and
  • Reduce response times.

The web based system works across most communications devices including computers, land line telephones, mobile phones and smart phones.

How can you better communicate with volunteers in an age of social media?Image

This is the ‘social media age’ and more proactive agencies such as the Canadian Red Cross look for ways to harness this new media’s potential.

The Canadian Red Cross Muskoka Disaster Management team turned to the services of Partnerships Towards Safer Communities (PTSC-Online) where Bill MacKay offered to create a “space” or mini community within PTSC-Online to support our team.  Public and restricted blog/calendar and wiki services will permit the disaster management team to have two-way links to its volunteers for non-emergency communications.

This is similar to other spaces such as is used by the National Fire Protection Association. See the Networking Partnerships area which highlights other organizations PTSC-Online is working with. I’m certain as time passes, other emergency response agencies will adopt similar means to communicate. It really is interesting times!

Has the media lost it’s focus?

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Patrice Cloutier in his Crisis Comm Command Post blog Hurricane Irene’s social media aftermath identifies the very point that irked me as I followed media coverage of Hurricane Irene…the media’s approach to the mayor of New York’s emergency preparedness initiatives. He would have been dammed if the storm had N.Y City with its full force; as not having done enough to ‘save the city’. As you rightly note, this was no “dud” of a storm.

News outlets seem to follow some common rule book for reporting natural disaster events…reporter bares the storm to get the word out…with little innovation or insight.

Media need to reassess their approaches and their fundamental role in society. To continue to only play to the lowest common denominator ‘sensationalism’ does the public no service, for it only distorts the reality of human efforts to mitigate a natural disaster.
I look forward to results of your post event investigation.

Categories: Emergency Management

Risk analysis and its impact on crisis communications planning

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

There’s a distinct role for the public information officer when writing and/or reviewing the hazard inventory and risk assessment (HIRA) of an organization. In this posting (#CAEC009) on PTSC-Online, Patrice Cloutier and I are paying particular attention to that distinct role.

A PIO views the HIRA through the lens of the people at risk. Understanding the state of mind of those people, allows the PIO to enhance the effectiveness of the overall emergency response, by providing key messages and using communications tools that will assist people to make informed decisions.

We hope you explore ‘Risk analysis and its impact on crisis communications planning‘ and share you thoughts and experiences with us.