York Region Leaders Convene for Emergency Preparedness
On October 6, York Region's luminary figures in emergency management convened at the York Region Police Association in Aurora. The aim? To sharpen their skills, foster collaboration, and bolster the community’s readiness for potential emergencies.
Glimpses from the Conference
The assembly brought together emergency management leaders from all nine regional municipalities, offering a wealth of knowledge about the most current best practices in emergency management. Attendees were also privy to innovative projects undertaken by various municipalities to bolster emergency preparedness.
Katherine Chislett, York Region community and health services commissioner, emphasized the need for a holistic approach. “Government is not going to be riding in on a white horse all the time to save you. We have to do this together as a community,” she passionately conveyed to the audience.
Building Bridges before Emergencies Arise
Held with an attendance of approximately 160 individuals, the conference saw participation from municipal leaders, York Regional Police, paramedics, and representatives from organizations like the YMCA. Morris Faccin, an emergency management manager, highlighted the importance of such gatherings. “It helps us get to know who’s who and exchange business cards in advance of an emergency,” he remarked.
Notable speakers graced the event, such as Vancouver emergency manager Miranda Myles, who shed light on Vancouver's 2021 heatwave, and Dr. David Sills of the Northern Tornados project.
A Focus on Community Resilience
A significant segment of the conference was dedicated to the theme of resilience. Various speakers deliberated on how leaders can foster and improve resiliency among residents.
Myles observed that by alleviating daily stresses, individuals can better cope during emergencies. “They can easily absorb that shock in their life if their regular, day-to-day world is not already under significant stress,” she stated.
Dr. Evalyna Bogdan from York University underscored the importance of community and student involvement in emergency management. “The point is to train community members, students, to be involved in their communities,” she emphasized, suggesting a domino effect where empowered individuals then reach out to others.
Redefining Emergency Management in a Post-Pandemic World
The pandemic has reformed the realm of emergency management. Sophia Craig-Massey, the Region's emergency management program manager, accentuated this transformation. According to her, the pandemic underscored the necessity of collaborative approaches in handling crises. “Governments can’t be the only provider of emergency services,” she noted. “It really relies on community groups and non-government organizations, with the whole community coming together.”
She also underlined the pandemic's role in highlighting the importance of emergency preparedness. “As an emergency manager, you’re often that person nobody really wanted to talk to. But during COVID, it really brought home the reality of emergencies and our need for preparedness.”
Resources for Residents
For those keen on further insights or interested in enhancing their own preparedness, the region's emergency preparedness guide is available at york.ca/beprepared.