Dr. Jim Anderson manages the Biological Warfare Threat Medical Countermeasures project at the Deptartment of National Defence (DND). He recently sat down with FrontLine editor Chris MacLean to discuss the challenges and implications of the biological threat and related preparedness requirements.
The Canadian Coast Guard, which became a Special Operating Agency in 2005, accomplishes its work with resources at its disposal, but there are undeniable deficiencies, some of which undoubtedly prompted Prime Minister Trudeau to prioritize the needs of the Coast Guard in his mandate letter to the Minister.
Disaster response requires managing recovery operations aimed at reducing the impacts of disasters. A disaster site might contain several lingering threats, including dangerous chemicals, toxic materials, precarious rubble, human remains, and may still be in the throes of extreme conditions such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes, sink-holes, tornadoes, and winter storms.
The world’s total forest area is just over 4 billion hectares, which corresponds to an average of 0.6 ha per capita (31% of the Earth’s total land mass), according to a 2010 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
A wildfire in the hills of the Deodoro Region in Rio de Janeiro has raised some concerns for the Olympics. As the winds have been gaining strength, a close eye needs to be kept on this fire.
The men's and women's BMX events are to take place in these hills over the next few days. Nothing has been reported yet as to whether or not the events will be postponed or canceled due to the fire.
Civilian and military first responders from Simcoe County will converge on Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden on Sunday, May 1, 2016, to participate in a joint mass casualty exercise as part of Exercise STOP, DROP AND ROLL, a simulated response to an air show accident.
Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel from various CFB Borden units will join over 30 volunteer medical first responders from St. John Ambulance Barrie Simcoe Muskoka, County of Simcoe Paramedic Services, and Emergency Management Ontario staff to work through a simulated mass casualty scenario.
The Kitsilano Coast Guard Base on the BC coast was shut down by the former Harper government more than three years ago. Operational response started up quietly in May, but today was the official re-opening, complete with a First Nations ceremony. The Liberal government pledges to improve the search and rescue capacity and expand the role to include an incident command post for environmental response on the water.
The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, made the following statement today acknowledging the United Nation’s International Day for Disaster Reduction.
"This week we witnessed the effects of large-scale flooding in Nova Scotia, particularly in Cape Breton, as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador. Residents in these areas have demonstrated resilience and community spirit as they continue to come together to help neighbors.
Airbus Helicopters Foundation provided support to humanitarian relief efforts following the tropical cyclone Winston that hit the Fiji Islands on 21 February 2016, killing at least 43 people and affecting 350,000 others. The disaster has left large areas of the Fiji archipelago without power, water supplies and communication and heavy rains have brought flash flooding, landslides and coastal inundation.
The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, have announced that the Government of Canada has deployed the Canadian Disaster Assessment Team (CDAT) to Haiti and set aside up to $3 million as an initial humanitarian response for those in Haiti and other countries in the region affected by Hurricane Matthew.
A new report being published for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit will no doubt become part of a broader global debate on the need to improve the safety and security of humanitarian healthcare workers deployed in unstable contexts throughout the world.
My journey with storms began some 40 years ago, and I have learned many lessons that can help others protect themselves, their friends, and their families from the hazards of severe weather.
(July 22) Being prepared is critical to saving your pets when disaster strikes. The following tips include information from the Humane Society of the United States, the American Red Cross, United Animal Nations and other sources.
Your guide to understanding insurance coverage of damage from natural catastrophes including hail, flood, storms, wildfires, wind, lightning and earthquakes.
(July 22) Simple actiities and games designed to increase student knowledge about earthquake science and preparedness.
(current updates) Coverage of the latest news and comment on natural disasters and extreme weather around the world.
C4i Consultants have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to support the "One Million Lives" project.
In collaboration with C4i, CDEMA is embarking on a multi-phase project to create a world-class emergency disaster management training facility with remotely deployable classrooms. C4i’s Emergency and Disaster Management Simulation (EDMSIM) software will be used to equip trainees with realistic tabletop exercises.
(updates daily) This site lists the latest global earthquakes with magnitudes of 2.5 or greater in the United States and Adjacent Areas, and a magnitude of 4.5 or greater in the rest of the world.
(July 22) The American Red Cross has created this Disaster and Safety Library to assist you in preparing your home, school and workplace in the event of a disaster or emergency. Here you will find fact sheets, preparedness checklists, recovery guides and other helpful information to keep you informed and safe.
(July 22) This article will give you practical tips on how to prepare for The Big One.
Civil Air Patrol’s rich history of protecting America will come full circle when the U.S. Air Force auxiliary officially celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2016.
Tow Target Unit No. 2 (1944)
(2014) This year, the World Disasters Report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, takes on a challenging theme that looks at different aspects of how culture affects disaster risk reduction (DRR) and how disasters and risk influence culture.
As we head into 2014, FrontLine Security offers some very pertinent reflections on the complex challenges of policing and disaster management. I trust that our articles will stimulate the additional discussion and debate.
First, Dr. Michael Kempa, a most respected researcher in his field, gives us a broad but comprehensive perspective on challenges in modern Canadian Policing in this more complex, and interconnected global environment, and the correspondingly changing face of Canadian community policing.
It was one of those frosty January mornings in Saguenay, Quebec. The year was 2009, and almost 70 elderly people were shivering out in the cold as the walls of the now blazing seniors’ residence, Belle Génération, began to fall. Chances of saving the building looked slim.
PREPARE & RESPOND
The worst floods in recorded history occurred in central China between July and November 1931, where as many as four million people died from drowning or related diseases such as cholera and typhus. Of the five deadliest floods on record, all have occurred in China. Most recently, in July 2012, torrential rains hit the central part of the country, causing in devastating floods and mudslides. At least 77 victims perished and millions were forced to evacuate their communities.
Enhancing Situational Awareness for Intelligent Emergency Management
Awareness for Intelligent Emergency ManagementWhen a flood, tornado, chemical spill or other disaster occurs, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive view of where the incident happens and how it unfolds in order to deliver effective emergency services.
In this issue we have focused on Emergency Response, primarily medical, and reflect on some serious proposals such as those by Steve Rowland on Emergency Medical Services in Ontario and Edward R Myers on both the OPP Medical Services and the Culture of Safety Richard Bray and Sean Tracy expose some other responder safety challenges and innovations in their articles dealing with CBRN and electric vehicle accident response.
The Strategy for a National EMS Culture of Safety asserts that "Emergency medical service (EMS) provider organizations nationwide potentially expose patients, practitioners and members of the public to preventable risk of serious harm, in contrast with advances in safety practices that have been broadly implemented in many other healthcare settings in recent years."
Health care facilities must be able to operate under a variety of potential emergency situations, both natural and man-made. This reality creates significant challenges for those who plan, design, build or renovate these facilities. Now, in a landmark standard recently published by CSA Group, best practices for addressing the complexities of health care facilities have been collected into a single, comprehensive document.
Across the vast expanse of the Arctic coast, on Great Slave Lake and in the Mackenzie Delta, boaters in distress look to members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) for assistance. In the Northwest Territories, the all-volunteer CCGA has units in Aklavik, Inuvik, Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Resolution, Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray. In Nunavut, the eastern Arctic, CCGA units are in Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet and Pangnirtung.
During a disaster, decisions need to be made quickly - using complete, accurate and up-to-date information. This was the challenge faced by Manitoba Health's Office of Disaster Management (ODM)during the spring of 2009, when the province experienced its second worst flood in over 100 years.
Canada has all the elements of a national public alerting system, but many important, time-sensitive public safety messages from government agencies aren’t getting through to the public.
The possibilities for alerting the public are almost endless – and the technology exists to enable them – but there are barriers to progress in this area.
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has initiated a research program to answer these questions and empower communities across the country to build risk assessment capacity. In partnership with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and supported by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), NRCan’s Earth Sciences Sector has developed a risk assessment framework known as Pathways that aims to link natural hazard risk assessment with community planning.
Fortunately, help was on the way. Well over 300 firefighters from more than 30 towns, cities and counties arrived to help battle nature’s inferno. Municipal officials were amazed and relieved. Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee remarked, “It was like the cavalry arrived.” More than 100 Alberta RCMP officers were also dispatched as part of the emergency response effort.
Mother Nature was on the warpath in 2011. From the beginning of January ‘till the end of December, there were hundreds of calamities around the world – perhaps none so dramatic and devastating as the Japanese earthquake/tsunami that struck in March.
An aerial view of Slake Lake Fire
On 15 November 2006, headlines read “Small tsunami waves hit Northern Japan after earthquake.” Not five years later, on 11 March 2011, the world received news of another earthquake in that same area. The 2011 T–ohoku earthquake was the most powerful known earthquake to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world overall since modern record-keeping began in 1900. It ravaged the Fukushima nuclear plant, shifted the earth on its axis, and destroyed the livelihood of so many Japanese citizens that one wonders how they will recover.
With globalization, many national economies, including Canada’s, are dependent on global trade – and maritime transportation is the strongest link in the international supply chain. International shipping has become a fundamental contributor and facilitator of economic growth; but it is increasingly susceptible to events that could result in the full or partial closure of ports or associated critical infrastructure.
Canada, Australia and the U.S. are the top three nations in terms of protecting forests and grasslands from fire. Advanced technologies have improved the effectiveness of the annual “war,” however, wildfires still cause considerable destruction. According to the Winnipeg-based Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), there were 88,939 wildfires between 1999 and 2009 that caused destruction across almost 20 million hectares – an area equivalent to nearly one-fifth of Ontario.
Tsunamis, earthquakes and nuclear crises in Japan, droughts in China, the “Arab Spring” upheavals, Osama dead, Ratko captured, tornadoes in southern U.S., floods in Australia and, at home, fires in Alberta, floods in Manitoba and Quebec ... These and other situations force us to focus on the question: “What is the state of our emergency preparedness and security?”
Some day a large earthquake will strike Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa or another large urban centre in Canada. Such an event has the potential to cause loss of life, property damage and economic disruption unprecedented for Canada. The tragic and contrasting experiences last year in Haiti and Chile show that appropriate investments in preparedness and resilience can help prevent future earthquakes from becoming disasters.
As disasters strike around the world, and each seemingly more devastating than the last, the visible damage is all too apparent. However, we are often not aware of the pervasive psychological damage that goes along with such physical destruction.
Can a local university make a significant difference in regional first responder and homeland security efforts? The answer is yes – if done right. Universities often have the reputation (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) of being intellectually and physically distant from the surrounding community, the classic “ivory tower” analogy. This is somewhat understandable since the historical dual-pronged mission of higher education institutions is to first, educate our post-secondary students, and second, contribute to the continuously expanding body of scholarly knowledge.
After the earthquake struck Haiti, my colleague, Andrew Fielden, and I worked with our partners at Igloo Software to put a wisdom-sharing community online. We called it The Crisis Kitchen because we believed the best way to share ideas, opinions and pragmatic pearls of wisdom is in a warm and inviting kitchen – real or metaphysical. Thus, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks working as a sous-chef in The Crisis Kitchen.
(Feb 2010) This report provides policymakers, law enforcement executives, resource planners, and counterdrug program coordinators with strategic intelligence regarding the threat posed to the United States by the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs. The assessment highlights strategic trends in the production, transportation, distribution, and abuse of illegal and controlled prescription drugs.
First, Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, provides a snapshot of his current challenges, reflects on pandemic preparedness, and gives sound advice on our individual responsibilities with H1N1 on the immediate horizon.
Jennifer Giroux from the Centre for Security Studies in Zurich, highlights the importance of community involvement in preparation for a pending natural disaster. She notes that, with proper training, we can all have a local role to play.
The United Nations is well known as a stage for international power struggles and as a constant source of opprobrium by right wing conservatives. It provides the backdrop for clashes that receive heavy coverage in the media. Virtually ignored by the press, however, are its myriad humanitarian and scientific agencies.
The 21st century has kicked off with a bang and opened the gates to an interconnected world where domestic and international borders are increasingly blurred. The last decade has witnessed the rise of transnational security threats posed by violent non-state actors, pandemics, climate change, ballooning economies, strains placed upon strategic, non-renewable energy resources, and significant technological advancements.
There are people in Ontario who can’t sleep when it rains heavily at night because they have experienced a flooded basement too often. Homeowners in British Columbia are reminded of the fear and reality of losing their home and possessions each time they see televised images of uncontrolled wildfires in the U.S. and Australia. Many in the elderly and infirm population are nervous that summer heat waves may strain the electrical power system, threatening another disruptive blackout.
An ice storm strands thousands without access to power or heat. As home temperatures drop, authorities are stretched to the limit and turn to the local volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) team to check on house-bound residents. But some SAR team members are unable to assist because they must look after their own families who don’t have heat in their own homes, and others can’t be reached because the automated pager system is down.
A severe tornado ripped through the city centre of Atlanta, Georgia in March 2008.
After a record snowfall during the 2007-2008 winter in New Brunswick and in the neighbouring province of Quebec and the state of Maine, the St. John River swelled to levels not seen in decades. Flooding forced the closure of major roads, uprooted trees and resulted in the evacuation of many residents living along the St. John River.
Photo: Communications New Brunswick
As a new battalion chief, I wondered how I was supposed to size up a burning building if I had to stay outside at the command post. I was to set up a command post at the front of the fire building and be there if the deputy chief responded to the fire. My orders were to stay at the command post to give incoming units orders and to brief the deputy responding to the fire.
(Jan 2009) Grim descriptions of the long‐term consequences of climate change have given the impression that the climate impacts from greenhouse gases threaten long‐ term economic growth. However, the impact of climate change on the global economy is likely to be quite small over the next 50 years. Severe impacts even by the end of the century are unlikely. The greatest threat that climate change poses to long‐term economic growth is from potentially excessive near‐term mitigation efforts.
(January 2009) This report provides a qualitative analysis of risk factors for five potential marine incidents likely to happen as shipping, tourism, exploration and development of natural resources (e.g., oil, gas, minerals) occur with the retreating Arctic ice cover.
(Nov 2009) To predict the path and landfall of a hurricane or other coastal storm and assess the damage, emergency managers and scientists need continuous information on the storm?s path, strength, predicted landfall, and expected damage over large areas. Satellite and airborne remote sensors can provide the required information in a timely and reliable way. The lessons learned from hurricane Katrina are helping optimize future approaches for tracking hurricanes and predicting their impact on coastal ecosystems and developed areas.
Reading the latest Report on Emergency Preparedness in Canada from the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, one cannot help but feel the Committee’s frustration, anger and foreboding. While their observations can be sarcastic and glib, they have certainly earned the right to be so.
Today, the threats to industry vary from those of a decade ago. The natural gas distribution industry has responded to the challenge – we have improved our understanding of new threats; and we have taken steps to ensure the continued reliability of the critical infrastructure that delivers 24% of Canada’s end-use energy to Canadian industry, businesses and homes, and exports half of our production over 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to the U.S.
New Brunswick is a relatively small jurisdiction, the third smallest in Canada, with a population of just 750,000. The lead provincial agency for emergency management is the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (NB-EMO), with a permanent staff of nine people. On reflection, the province performed quite well during this year’s flood – far better than during a similar flood in 2005. We examine some of the interesting reasons why, and explain how the province is incorporating recent lessons learned to improve its emergency program for the future..
Today, mobile field camps are versatile, deployable facilities for both civil and military operations. After a short assembly time, they provide comfortable living and working conditions designed to ease some of the strain of an extended period of deployment. Field camps with sufficient infrastructure can provide the basis for continuous operational readiness, sustainability and motivation.
Over the past several years, a series of previously unthinkable events have caused the RCMP to consider its state of operational readiness. Sept 11th, Hurricane Katrina, and massive bombings in Madrid and London required extraordinary efforts from a wide range of responding agencies. Here at home, reports of flooding, forest fires, severe weather, blackouts, terrorist threats, and warnings of an inevitable flu pandemic arrive from all quarters on a regular basis.
To intervene effectively in human-made or natural disaster crises requires planning, implementation, and follow-through to ensure that goals are achieved and resources put to best use.
Damage from Katrina.
National Security – The Sea Matters
Over the last six years, in the changed global security environment, Canadians have learned that National Security is a modern imperative that requires profound thought, development, investment, resourcing, and, most of all, government leadership and action. The new threat environment includes globalized threats such as terrorism, multi-national crime organizations, disease epidemics, and natural disasters – not simply traditional, state-oriented threats.
As the nation reassesses its response to large scale disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and its preparedness for the threat of H5N1 flu pandemic, planners must also begin thinking about and preparing for the inevitable – mass fatality management. A mass fatality incident is defined as “any incident where the number of fatalities is greater than normal local arrangements can manage.” Any plan for dealing with fatalities needs to be integrated with all aspects of the response to and recovery from such incidents.
We are fortunate to have a piece by the new Commissioner of Public Safety in Ontario, Commissioner Jay Hope on his role and that of Emergency Management Ontario and the ordinary citizen.
THE ALBERTA EXPERIENCE FOLLOWING THE AUGUST 2005 DERAILMENT AT LAKE WABAMUN
Regions and municipalities deal with crises on a somewhat regular basis and therfore tend to maintain their readiness levels, however, major disasters that call for special resources do not happen very often. The tendency then, especially as events fade into the past, is to let our preparedness guards down. This is perhaps more true at the federal and provincial/state levels that are further removed from first response demands.
Natural disasters can strike with little or no notice, causing large numbers of casualties and devastating local infrastructure. Impacts may include widespread power outages, road closures that block emergency response efforts, building collapses and structure fires. As the Commissioner of Community Safety for Ontario and a former Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, I know that within moments of a natural disaster striking, response resources and management systems can be stressed to the limit.
IDASSA 2007 is the second Natural Disaster exercise that the Republic of Croatia, in cooperation with NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), has organized on its territory. The majority of Croatian work for the exercise was organized and conducted by the National Protection and Reserve Directorate.
Croatioan Civil Protection Team on IDASSA exercise. (Photo: Dino Stanin)
Across the world and across the street, on the battlefield or at the scene of disaster, where there are signs of trouble you will see one of the most recognized symbols in the world: the Red Cross. With a legislated role as “auxiliary to the public authorities,” in addition to its non-profit status, humanitarian mission, volunteer-driven structure, and long history in disaster management, the Red Cross has a unique vantage point to gain knowledge from lessons learned and promote best practices in disaster management for the volunteer, non-profit sector.
Weather-related hazardous events have always affected responders but the frequency of these natural disasters has been increasing – from 2-4 per year in earlier decades to about 12 per year in the last decade (with considerable year-to-year variability).
May 2007 - Lake City, Florida. The Florida Bugaboo Fire rages out of control as firefighters wait for a helicopter to bring a load of water. (Photo: Mark Wolfe/FEMA)
On 15 June, the order to stand down on the Fraser Flood Emergency Response was given by the Solicitor General of BC and a successful operation was completed. Earlier, weather experts had warned that the melting snow would soon cause the mighty Fraser River to flood its banks. This, of course, triggered emergency response personnel at all levels to dust off their plans and equipment and prepare. In analyzing a natural disaster in the making, FrontLine Security interviewed a key player in this response.
Just hours before Hurricane Katrina reached land along the Gulf Coast on August 28, 2005, New Orleans’ Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation. For many reasons, but mostly for lack of means, approximately 25,000 city residents did not evacuate. In the end, an estimated 1,600 – 1,800 lives were lost. Had the entire population in the affected area been properly evacuated, a majority of these individuals would be alive today.
Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) teams are multi-disciplinary in nature. Personnel and equipment used by these teams can be deployed locally, provincially, and across Canada to provide the specialized search and rescue to free and recover trapped victims.
Toronto HUSAR team members work to remove heavy debris and secure safe positions within a collapsed structure.
Hospitals have a long history of participation in emergency preparedness. Historically, it would have two types of emergency plans; one to respond to a mass casualty situation, and a second to evacuate the building in the case of a catastrophic event. Emergency planning for hospitals has evolved in the post 9-11 world, with CBRN (chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear) incident training and preparation becoming more wide spread.
Many threats and hazards have the potential to undermine the security and safety of Canadians. These threats and hazards can be man-made, such as acts of terrorism, or they can be natural, such as floods, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The ability of the public safety and security community to manage these emergencies and disasters can be aided by information technology. In particular, ‘geospatial’ information technology (technology that ties information to a location – a mapping system) is proving increasingly useful to emergency managers.
Many FrontLine readers are directly responsible for emergency preparedness within their community, region, or nation. We recognize that our preparations for catastrophe are based on our education and research, our best thinking about specific areas, and how best to use our (always limited) resources.
Advances in the ability of scientists to predict severe weather disturbances and natural disasters will not protect the public if warnings don’t get out. That message was recently delivered by Dr. Ian Rutherford, executive director of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS), to Canada’s broadcast regulator. He recounted how newly acquired Doppler radars have doubled the technologically possible warning time for tornadoes since one touched down in Edmonton in 1987 when he was in charge of the Alberta city’s weather service.
(July 22) Tip sheets that focus on earthquake safety that is also applicable for all types of disaster preparedness for people with disabilities, including information that is helpful in preparing for emergencies such as power outages, fires, floods, hurricanes, nuclear power plant accidents, tornados, tsunamis, volcanoes, winter storms and very cold or very hot weather.