Column 124

 

It could be your toddler at preschool. A major storm hits, traps kids in a burning building.

It could be your parent, in a secured ward in a long term care facility. The building is threatened and the people are trapped.

It could be a mentally ill gunman with death on his agenda and you're in the school hallways.

The scenarios are limitless and Darryl Culley's experience is the same. He has seen so much loss of life, so much disaster in his role as a disaster exercise consultant. And most of it is preventable.

Since 2003 Darryl's company, Emergency Management and Training Services, has been devoting itself to just that... managing emergencies, preparing for disaster recovery, training people in processes that save lives. Darryl has an uncanny ability to expect and prepare for the unexpected.

He's become an internationally recognized provider of disaster recovery events in communities across the continent. And he's just published his first book on the subject. Creating Chaos and Mayhem, bills itself as the ultimate guide to disaster exercise planning. And it is. Darryl's company, EMT, has been conducting disaster recovery scenarios in cities and institutions across North America, with great results.

Emergency surgeries, carried out in school gymnasia, tornadoes ripping through towns and taking life and limb with them, immediate response from medical, fire, police and emergency personnel: "this book is a guide for people responsible for health and safety of clients, staff and employees in industry, health care, colleges, universities, private schools, nursery schools, day camps, nursing homes, outdoor ed centres, municipalities... for anyone with a responsibility for other people," says Darryl.

Creating Chaos and Mayhem sets up exercises, identifies goals and plays out threats like earthquake and tornado scenarios, instructs on how to prepare for lack of infrastructure like power, water, communications, natural gas.

As Darryl and I chatted this week, I asked about places like the Air Canada Centre, the Rogers Centre, Exhibition buildings that host shows like One of a Kind... "Do they all have disaster recovery training where people have participated in drills that are realistic?" And Darryl replies, "Often, no. Many facilities (including hospitals) don't set aside the budget for emergency preparedness. Often they feel if they've got defibrillators and cpr trained people on site, that's enough. But it isn't."

Darryl talks about the program his company put together for Ontario College of Art and Design. He also completed a medical team disaster plan for a Tony Robbins event in New Jersey last fall and that's where his plan to write a book (since 2004) took shape and made its deadline.

In two weeks, Darryl's company is the global sponsor for the World Conference on Disaster Management. Occurring over three days in June, the conference will include mock disaster planning throughout the event. There will be 800 people attending from literally all over the world...Brazil, Mexico, France, US, England, and on and on. Darryl is planning a disaster exercise for the event, and also plans to make his book available.

As well as many municipalities who have contracted Darryl's EMT to carry out disaster exercises, he has also carried out projects for many First Nations communities. He has a proposal in to the oil sands in Alberta. He's been to Dallas, Texas twice to stage events, most recently at Texas State Technical College.

While carrying out an experience usually takes between 1-3 days, planning the event takes much longer, depending on its complexity.

"It won't happen here."

"We'll manage if it does."

Those are often the reactions of institutions, municipalities, health care facilities and schools, says Darryl, but he sees disaster planning as like buying insurance. Emergency preparedness is 60% of EMT's work. The remainder is consulting with Emergency Services personnel, fire and police departments. Darryl sees the effect of his work as a real benefit to existing personnel who don't have the resources to plan and carry out a mock disaster. He hand picks personnel for each of his projects, emergency workers, fire chiefs, fire fighters, police, doctors, health care administrators... different experts depending on the project.

So Creating Chaos and Mayhem is designed to do just that. Darryl's book went on sale in hard copy May 27, at $36. Printed in full colour, all photographs are from actual disaster projects and the text covers the full range of disasters that can threaten many many communities.

Creating Chaos is also available on Amazon, on Kindle and on Create Space as ebooks. Aren't we lucky to have Darryl's expertise (www.emergencymgt.com) right here in Barrie?

Thanks, Darryl.

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