A reader responds to the recent article “Expecting the Unexpected: The Need for a Networked Terrorism and Disaster Response Strategy.” by W. David Stephenson and Eric Bonabeau in Homeland Security Affairs III, No. 1 (February 2007).
Hodgins, E. David. “Letter to the Editor: Expecting the Unexpected: The Need for a Networked Terrorism and Disaster Response Strategy.” Homeland Security Affairs 3, Article 5 (June 2007). https://www.hsaj.org/articles/598
April 17, 2007
Homeland Security Affairs Magazine
I am writing in response to the recent article “Expecting the Unexpected: The Need for a Networked Terrorism and Disaster Response Strategy.” by W. David Stephenson and Eric Bonabeau in “Homeland Security Affairs III, No. 1 (February 2007).
Based on my present position as the British Columbia Fire Commissioner and past positions of leadership in the emergency services, including my academic credentials and authorship of a monthly article in Fire Fighting in Canada, I can unequivocally state I am in full agreement with the necessity of a networked terrorism and disaster response strategy. In fact, Canada has in place an operational emergency management system that meets the criteria of that advocated by Stephenson and Bonabeau.
The incident management system is called Emergency Site Management and it is a fully integrated multi-jurisdictional multi-agency system capable of responding to emergencies of any magnitude. It was devised on the premise that no single service can successfully respond unilaterally to an emergency. Therefore it stresses the need for decision making, communication, cooperation and coordination among key services and jurisdictions in order to ensure an effective emergency response. Under this system, the emergency site team decides on mitigation strategies and tactics to limit the threat to people, property and the environment at the emergency site.
As a Chief Officer of Strathcona County, I successfully employed this system in responding to the 1987 tornado that devastated parts of Edmonton, Alberta and Strathcona County, resulting in loss of life and multi-million dollar property damage. I have also successfully employed this system in responding to hazardous material emergencies such as a fire involving a freight train and a refinery fire — both major life threatening incidents situated in high density population areas.
The Canadian Emergency Management College (CEMC) in Ottawa, Canada offers a course in coordinated emergency management under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Public Safety Canada. I have been a service coach at the CEMC since 1991, drawing on my academic and operational experience to support the delivery of emergency management courses.
The College offers two interrelated Incident Management courses: Emergency Site Management and Emergency Operations Centre Management. They are excellent courses, solid in content and capable of addressing the challenges presented by major disasters. The College website is: www.ps-sp.gc.ca/college where you can learn more about the curriculum. The proof of the success of Emergency Site Management is, of course, found in verifiable examples of its operational application in major disasters wherein a fully integrated multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency response system is employed.
E. David Hodgins, CEMC
Assistant Deputy Minister
This letter was originally published at the URL https://www.hsaj.org/?fullarticle=3.2.5.
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