Embrace change

Today, a friend of mine asked me to join her at her Interfaith Spiritualist church. While I found the service to be a little on the hokey side, the speaker said a few things which really resonated with me. In particular, he stated that while our world was changing quickly, we needed to embrace that change, rather than shy away from it. I couldn’t help but think that his message was incredibly relevant to emergency management.

With the rise of social media, new technologies, and increased fears about the earth’s sustainability, there are hundreds of reasons to feel nostalgic for the “olden days”, or a time when we weren’t quite so reliant on technology. Being a lover of vintage fashion, the outdoors, and classic movies, I have a longing for tradition as well. As I’ve spent the last year learning more about the field of EM and business continuity, however, I’ve realized that while we need to have a respect for tradition and tried-and-true methods, we can’t ignore the importance of new technology to promote resiliency and awareness.

Social media is a perfect example of this. It has been an incredibly useful tool for emergency management agencies and businesses outside the field. It’s also created a new set of problems which have prompted some organizations to believe that social media may be more trouble than its worth. The reality is that social media is not going away. Ignoring its applications will make you more, not less, vulnerable to its potential downsides. Rather than avoid social media in an attempt to minimize it’s damage, emergency management organizations need to embrace it as a tool to promote personal responsibility for the public, increase situational awareness for first responders, and a forum for the public to interact with emergency managers and each other to address their own needs.

There is a huge benefit to maintaining a capability to communicate using traditional means, such a public broadcasting and amateur radio operators, but in order to have a well-rounded communications strategy, organizations also need to be able to use social media and effectively address the new obstacles it creates. I suspect that, as with everything in life, a careful balance is needed to maximize the benefits of new technologies and traditional methods of emergency management.

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Almost there!

I’ve been really terrible at updating this week. I’ve been trying to focus on my exams/final projects. I have one more day (two exams!) of school left, and then I will be free! Well, almost. I have my last rounds shift on Friday, and move out on Saturday (which is sure to be insane) and then I have about 4 hours to pack up my own car for the drive home.

I have mixed feelings about the end of the year. For the last three weeks, I’ve honestly been feeling so burnt out and just ready to leave. Now that everything is winding down, I’m starting to get rather melancholy. I’ve made many good friends here, and tons of acquaintances I’m sad I won’t get to know better.

One of the best experiences in the last couple of weeks has been getting to know the new RAs a little better. Most of them are so nervous, and it’s funny to look back and remember how similar my own feelings were about becoming an RA. We’ve been trying to give them all the advice we can, but the truth is, you really learn as you go.

I’m looking forward to having a break when I get home, but I’m also full of motivation for some projects I want to work on. I don’t have a job lined up, which, while discouraging, also means that I can pursue some things I haven’t had a chance to in my six (6!) solid years of post-secondary education. I want to brush up on my French, volunteer with the Red Cross, and spend a little time helping, my little brother make his resume. Not to mention working on this blog! I really want to keep it going, and hopefully create some meaningful content. I have found so many good EM resources and articles in the last few weeks, and have had so little time to sit down and read them all! I’d like to share those, as well as some of my own lessons from this past year, in the next few weeks.

I have a feeling the ResLife portion of this blog will become smaller, since I will no longer be living at school, but I still have stories and experiences I want to share, so for the time being, I’m going to keep the name Disasters and Door Decs. I have been spending some time trying to think of a new name, however (mostly when I can’t sleep the night before an exercise/final–like now!).

I’m so, so excited for what this summer will bring!

The light at the end of the tunnel…

This is what the office desk looks like when I'm on duty

I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The end of the school year is only two weeks away, but it still feels so far. The next week is completely insane. There is a significant portion of my brain that this telling me to just bury my head under the covers and only come out when it’s all over. Another part is telling me to drop out.

Fortunately, the rational part is telling me to put a smile on and get through it, because I will be so proud of myself when it’s all over.

I’m currently studying for my DRI certification exam, which is tomorrow. This exam will certify me as an Associate Business Continuity Professional. Even though I’m not sure business continuity is the direction I want to go it, I know having this certification will be valuable if I do. Unfortunately, it feels as though there is too much to study and not enough time. I love my index cards, so I’ve been spending the last couple of days furiously writing out definitions and notes on the 10 professional Practices. Needless to say, I’ll be glad when it’s all over!

Tomorrow night I’m running another Therapy Dogs program. Everyone is stressed, and it seems even worse now that we only have two weeks left. It’s also getting to the point where some people realize that after this year, they probably won’t see each on a daily basis. This makes people either really sad, or really disrespectful, depending who you’re talking about. Hopefully the puppies will make everyone feel a bit better.

On Tuesday, we’re finalizing the business continuity plan we’ve been working on all year, and next week we will present it to our client. It’s been such a long time in coming, it’s hard to believe it’s almost done!

Wednesday is the most hectic day. Along with my group, I’ll be facilitating a tabletop exercise at an Ontario Ministry in order to test one of their emergency response plans. Our exercise is fine, but we need to practice the presentation aspect of it–definitely not my favourite thing to do. As soon as we are done at the Ministry, we’re heading back to school to deliver a public education program to our class. I’m doing mine on how businesses can help prevent terrorism. Again, my presentation is done, but I’ve been waiting until after DRI to practice it.

For those of us that are in the EM program as well as working in Res, we will then hurry back in order to get ready for the Student Leadership Banquet. I’m actually really excited about this, as we get to dress up and watch our colleagues receive awards for leadership. It should be a nice way to end a crazy day!

On Thursday I’m handing in the After-Action Report for the exercise I designed and controlled last week (more on that in another post), as well as starting work on the AAR for the Ministry exercise. Friday will be used for finishing everything up, and then Saturday is the school open house. Some of my classmates will be on the main campus, telling prospective students about the EM program, but I’ll be giving tours around the residence.

Let me tell you, I can’t wait to go home and have a break! I’m a little disappointed that I don’t have a job lined up, but I plan on spending the whole summer applying and volunteering, so I’m sure I won’t get too bored. It will definitely be nice to read books for fun again!