Be sure to see the update posted at the bottom of this article!
Published in the Calgary Herald (and perhaps elsewhere), Calgary Emergency Management Agency released their 2016 report on the status of preparedness in the city. While the data contained in the report only has direct relevance if you have interest in the city of Calgary, the concept and themes in the report have some broader relevance to everyone in emergency management.
First, let’s talk about the publication of this report. I absolutely think this is a best practice and Calgary Emergency Management should be congratulated for it. The Herald also deserves credit for putting the information out there… we know that media outlets don’t always have the time or ability to publish the information they are provided. All in all, the information contained in the report should be pretty relatable to most readers. They detail the hazards, highlight costs of certain past disasters in the province of Alberta, talk about some facts that demonstrate a continued need for preparedness efforts, and they talk about some of their actions and recommended actions for others. I’m left wondering if these are highlights of a more detailed report. Either way, it’s a nice bit of information and promotion of emergency management efforts.
Their report starts off providing a list of the top ten hazards and risks in Calgary, with an added bit of information telling what percentage of hazard mitigation efforts are focused on each hazard (I’m not sure what the mitigation percentage is based upon… percent of mitigation budget, perhaps?). While much of the hazard list is intuitive, it should certainly serve as a good reminder to businesses and citizens about what can impact the area. This is also a list that I largely suspect could be replicated in many other municipalities around the world, especially those in the colder reaches of the northern and southern hemispheres.
Another section in the report provides a number of bulleted facts related to preparedness in Calgary. Some of these seem to have originated from a public survey, others from a survey of businesses, while others, such as the number of critical infrastructures in the city, were likely internal or in collaboration with other agencies. Regardless of the source, they should be eye opening for people. They are also, as with other information, fairly representative of many other municipalities around the world. While the numbers may not be exact, I’m sure the percentages are pretty close.
They follow up their facts with two brief sections on hazard mitigation, one focusing on private sector and business continuity and the other from a broader emergency management perspective. These are all certainly applicable in any of our locations. Finally, they list their nine focuses for the year. These nine areas may very well be pulled from an annual strategic plan update for Calgary Emergency Management and are also very relatable to most of us around the world. They mention things like leveraging risk assessment, sustainability funding for capabilities, emergency plan revisions, public outreach, training and exercises, and others.
It’s great to see an emergency management agency putting information out to the populations they serve. It adds context to ‘winter weather awareness week’ or other promotions, and provides more information on what emergency management does. This report also showed that, while there are some differences based on our relative locations, much of what we are dealing with in emergency management is very similar.
Kudos again to CEMA.
© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP
By virtue of posting this article, I was contacted by Ms. Tabitha Beaton who works for Calgary Emergency Management and was one of the principal authors of this report. A full version of their report can be found here.