Keeping Citizens Safe?
Dec 15, 2011

We are closing in on 15 years since the infamous Ice Storm crippled much of Eastern Ontario, Western ­Quebec, and the Northeastern States. Many remember the feeble briefings provided by authorities during the first few days – when power pole numbers, rather than geographical locations, were used to describe power outages to a troubled and doubly confused public. The worrying was shared by citizens unable to heat, cook, travel, wash or get medical treatment... or even get the flawed information. Are we better prepared now than we were then?

Counting down some other milestones, it has been 12 years since the serendipitous capture of the centennial bomber at the British Columbia border; 11 years since the tragedies of 9/11;  and 7 years since the creation of Canada’s federal Department of Public Safety.

It has been 6 years since the launch edition of FrontLine Security in which we outlined the following vulnerabilities that must be mitigated to ensure our security:

“Canada’s vulnerability is quite obvious to most. All of these are integral to the secure Canada of today:

  • our reliance on external sources for energy;
  • the interconnected nature of our electrical grid;
  • the ease and importance of unfettered travel to both our lives and economy;
  • the international make-up of our day-to-day food sources and other products;
  • the increasing violence of Mother Nature in our vast land and varied climate;
  • our increased reliance on immigration for continued prosperity and development;
  • the security, dependence upon, general availability of, and access to information technology for our security, governance and financial prosperity.”

This issue’s theme of earth, wind, fire and ice attempts to address our preparedness to handle the Mother Nature concerns, but, as will become apparent to you, there remains major work to be done still.

The recent agreement with the U.S. on borders will facilitate much, as far as mutual coordination and cooperation in these times of natural disaster. On the other hand, “dilly dallying” over the very critical decision to dedicate the 700MHz band to Emergency Management is not a good sign. Lance Valcour points out why decisions are soon needed from Industry Canada to get on with development of this dedicated ­Emergency Band and benefit from efficient communications that are urgently required by first responders across North America.

Likewise, Ed Myers’ examination of the Slave Lake fire of 2011 points to the need for Community  based  Protection Programs and strongly suggests that we adapt much of the U.S. NFPA standards and procedures, rather than reinventing the wheel. At any rate, congratulations to all who worked to limit the damage of this ­disaster to one life and $1.8 billion – with a special “thank you” to Deputy Chief Tom Sampson and his crews of the Calgary Fire Service for their selfless dedication in the face of danger.

Reflections in subsequent articles, relate directly and exemplify the urgent demand for “Situational Awareness” that my friend Ernie MacGillivray, Director of Emergency Services in New Brunswick so clearly and succinctly defines as “knowing what is happening around you so you can make decisions and influence events.”

We need the shared process and communication protocols to paint a common picture, speak a common language, share common equipment and execute a timely response... and we must practice these.

Our need for a National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination System (NAADS ) examined by Richard Bray in his article on alerting systems, and a National Situational Awareness ­Capability such as MASAS, as expounded upon by Jeff Brooks, the Acting EMS Chief in Lambton County, must indeed form an important part of this process. Additionally, these must be aligned as best we can with those of our international partners, as explained in J. Linley Biblow’s article on Societal Security urging participation in the international development ISO/TC 223 standards through our own Canadian Standards Association’s CSA Z1600 Emergency management business continuity standard.

Two key and somewhat separate concerns are exposed in this issue. The first is the study on First Responders facing Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) by Dr. Richard Ogle and Sarah Henry which provides real guidance to responders, their families and employers.  

Finally, Burn Macdonald offers some advice to industry and government on cyber resilience security strategies that is well worth heeding.

We have come a long way since the 2005 creation of the federal department dedicated to Public Safety.

Myriad national security policies and facilities have contributed to improved ­preparedness, and FrontLine is proud of its continuing efforts in facilitating discussion and dialogue on all these matters. Improvements in legislation and the border agreements are to be applauded and will make Canadians and our American neighbours more secure without impeding our basic freedoms… but…   


Clive Addy, Executive Editor
© FrontLine Security 2011