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  • in reply to: Mod 1 Blog #4634

    Hi Folks,

    Just an update on the Covid response here in Canada and some personal thoughts. In western Canada, if a decisive and effective response was what was necessary, well, I suggest that we did as well as anywhere. All one needs to do, from a wholly Canadian perspective, is look south across our border and see the general chaos that seems to be prevailing there.

    Having said that, I believe Canada was caught flat-footed at the federal level through bureaucratic complacency. I retired from the federal government, but for my last ten years in their employ, one of my key responsibilities was to develop a range of (Regional) responses to the disasters of the day for my department (Coast Guard/Fisheries and Oceans).. We certainly had plans in the day (SARS, Avian bird flu, earthquake, regional flooding) but in my experience it takes a deep commitment both politically and from day-to-day action and a deliberate focus for these plans and preparations to have any positive impact.

    Here in Canada, there still is no ‘plan’ all these months later. No real plan exists as yet to target those groups most at risk and certainly no plan to map out a financial recovery. All that our various governments are doing are throwing money at the problem, largely as direct financial aid to individual Canadians. Billions and billions of dollars hot off the printing presses. In my view, that is not how we get out of this mess. It has reached the stage where tens of thousands of jobs are staying unfilled because a certain element of our society are finding it easier and just as financially secure to stay home and take the free money.

    I wrote Chris on this subject a few weeks ago and he suggested that I share my thoughts with you. I have not had anyone in my personal network come down with Covid as yet, and am therefore not directly impacted, but I am concerned about the most vulnerable in our country, the aged and infirm.

    My 93 year old mother-in-law has dementia and is living in an extended care home. I have had trouble calling it a ‘care home’. Given the restraints placed upon these places here they are warehouses where they keep old people under virtual 24/7 isolation. There is near total sensory deprivation. These folks are confined to their rooms. There is no interaction, even with the staff, except in a world of face masks and gowns. What have we done? This is absolute cruelty at any level. Our old folks are our heritage and should be our pride and joy and yet we have imprisoned them. What for? What about trying to treat these folks with the respect and dignity that they deserve. In many cases, I suggest that the Covid took some of our dear old folks only hours or days, perhaps, before they would have succumbed anyway to their existing ailments. There is a very broad range of illness and diseases that take us away, as all of you very well know.
    Is Covid-19 supposed to be the show stopper that freezes an entire planet? What about the hundreds of thousands of surgeries and other procedures that were cancelled? What if there is a Covid-20, 21, 22? Is our world supposed to become virtually paralyzed on each occasion?

    I suggest, folks, that there needs to be an ethical debate on this Covid-19 crisis, as it pertains to the lives of people on this planet at all ages, and most certainly on the impact to other positive and proactive initiatives that could or should be going on around the world. I know for a fact that monies by generous citizens to the charities of their choice have been significantly reduced here in Canada. These unintended consequences should not BE unintended consequences. Pandemic planning has been around for a very long time.

    So, going forward, are we going to be a little less complacent and cavalier about these types of events that do and will arise? Should any of you choose to work in the field in disaster planning. perhaps YOU will be that champion that is always needed to drive these initiatives forward!

    Cheers, Roger

    in reply to: Mod 1 Natural Disaster Trends #4232

    The CRED site is very useful and no doubt 2020 shall figure sharply in the ‘Biological’ category world-wide due to Covid-19. There may appear to be impacts and influences on other categories of natural disaster.
    A quick grab from the BC Government Wildfire records shows that 2019 was significantly lower in total number of fires overall, from 2017 and 2018, and at this point in time this year (which is usually the peak of the fire season) there are 382 reported fires in the province, almost entirely caused by lightning strikes. Last year was quite unusual. The stats from 2018 and 2017 are much more in the norm here.
    The 2020 season would appear to be heavily impacted by the Covid-19 ‘Stay Home’ orders across the province and the consequent bare minimum of remote area travel by all residents. So, traditional impacts from climatological factors have been dramatically offset here by the epidemic.
    There could also be an assumption made that there will be less of a negative impact going forward from flooding and landslide activities which in any given year are often attributed to the loss of viable forest cover which is destroyed by the wildfires. However, I am no geographer and I bet there are some interesting studies arising from the ‘cross pollination’ of the impact of one natural disaster compared to another!

    Year Total Fires Total Hectares Total Cost (millions) Average Hectares per Fire Person-caused Person-caused (%) Lightning-caused Lightning-caused (%)
    2019 825 21,138 $182.5 25.6 448 (54.3%) 375 (45.4%)
    2018 2,117 1,354,284 $615.0 639.7 535 (25.3%) 1,489 (70.3%)
    2017 1,353 1,216,053 $649.0 898.8 552 (40.8%) 773 (57.1%)

    in reply to: Mod 1 Blog #4141

    Hi Folks,

    I reviewed the first ‘meet ‘n’ greet’ Zoom meeting. Great to see you all. I regret that I will probably be skipping a few of the actual meeting times, not that I want to, but it is 3:00 AM here in British Columbia and my apartment setting is such that I have no doubt that I would receive a complaint or two from neighbours!! In the mean-time, hello there! I look forward to exchanging information with you as the course goes on>

    Regards, Roger


    As has been expressed in the Red Cross WDR 2015, I was initially drawn to trending which seem to suggest there is a decline in disasters occurring annually. The information provided through the Red Cross WDR is quite compelling, but it left me to consider why. As was noted in the Torqaid supporting documentation, this reduction could very well be due to a range of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) initiatives. The data on natural disasters was quite clear.

    Then I thought that I should look at what, if anything, could be gleaned from a review of technological disasters, in the last decade that would point to a lower trending. There would appear to be a reduction in technological disasters, but the challenges and outcomes still present themselves. Here in North America, we need look no further than a couple of examples that stand out, the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon ‘Macondo’ spill, with 11 fatalities and the largest accidental marine oil spill in history and the Lac Megantic, Quebec crude oil train explosion, with 47 killed and the centre of the town destroyed. Human error, within poorly management safety systems, was the single largest contributing factor.

    Although I have a background in natural disaster response in Western Canada (interface wildfires, regional flooding and earthquakes),
    I am currently much more in involved in technological disaster studies as a professional health and safety consultant, with my main activities related to health and safety management systems. A range of authors, such as James Reason and Charles Perrow have provided excellent material from their studies on human error and the factors related to organizational accidents in ‘tightly coupled’ systems, such as those found in oil and gas processing and distribution.

    I tried to provide the James Reason’s ‘Swiss Cheese’ model of how accidents can happen to illustrate my point, but was unsuccessful in this forum. You can look it up, though! It is a classic illustration and supports disaster risk reduction concepts as far the work pertains to health, safety and environmental management systems. .

    In my view, I think there is a great deal of work that could be done to support significant reductions in human and other losses as a result of technological disasters. The problem is that we are all human and humans can mess up! Future research for myself will include how behavioural-based initiatives in complex, high risk settings my qualitatively, if not quantitatively, reduce the number of these types of disasters.

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