With the recent anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfire, we are reminded of the life-changing month that has left a lasting impression on the entire country. Many families were displaced from their homes and still to this day, they are slowly rebuilding their lives while leaving the tragic memories behind.
In continuation of Emergency Preparedness week, we are sharing Fort McMurray Branch Manager, Matthew Garcin’s story on the importance of planning, preparedness and resiliency in the event of an emergency.
What systems did Paladin Security already have in place that helped ensure the safety and security of its employees and clients?
We had already known for a couple of days that the fire was burning. On May 3rd, as things progressed, we started hearing on the radio that there was a voluntary evacuation happening; by the time they called for emergency evacuation, parts of the city were already on fire.
With our emergency preparedness plan in place, an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Edmonton was immediately set up. Our Corporate Emergency Management and Business Continuity plan and manager worked with our EOC to remove our key assets from the Fort McMurray office.
The multi-level management structure really helped to ensure everyone’s safety. We had myself, Executive Vice President Greg (Swecera), Office Manager Janet (Watson), Senior Director Katherine (Bell) and HR manager Sam (Levesque) with the support of the entire branch in Edmonton. Our company’s internal technology allowed our HR to connect and reach out to our employees, clients and their families via cellphone, e-mail and text messages.
To have an office just a five-hour drive away to pick up and continue where we left off really made a difference. We can operate our business anywhere and ensure everyone’s safety.
How supportive was the Paladin Security/Canadian Community throughout this event?
I can’t say enough about how Paladin supported myself and our teams. Greg took care of me, and in turn, we took care of people down the line. The support we got from Edmonton was incredible, they made us feel at home. Knowing that they have our backs whether it’s personal or work, it’s a big thing; they’re an exceptional crowd and deserve a lot of recognition.
The support of Paladin Security outside Northern Alberta immensely aided everyone’s efforts. Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer sent some of their teams to assist us at our work sites and relieve employees who were stuck in camps while we worked with our clients to restore our business.
The resiliency of our staff to step up when we really needed them to is what really made this happen.
In honour of Emergency Preparedness week, how important is personal preparedness during emergencies?
Preparedness is everything. Being prepared physically to lift servers, equipment and uniforms is one thing— to be mentally prepared as an organization is invaluable. When you think you’re ready, stop and take another look.
It is imperative to have an emergency kit at your home for such emergencies. Ensuring your supply has extra food, water, blankets, and a full tank of gas with extra gas cans to name a few.
Undoubtedly, it was a stressful and emotional time, but it was also such a rewarding time. To see total strangers come together in helping others in need proves how beautiful the human spirit is.