The City of Toronto recognizes the important role that private sector organizations play in emergency management.

From conducting business continuity planning to supporting the City’s efforts to respond to and recover from events, private sector organizations are key partners in ensuring the readiness and resiliency of Toronto. Private sector organizations operate and maintain a portion of the City’s critical infrastructure, such as food, telecommunications systems and financial services – so it is especially important for these types of organizations to have systems and strategies in place to continue delivering their essential services during an emergency. Private sector organizations also play an important role in increasing the personal preparedness of their employees, such as encouraging staff to have an emergency plan for their families and to maintain an emergency kit.

Get Emergency Ready Guides

Toronto’s Office of Emergency has developed a series of Get Emergency Ready guides to support Torontonians to take steps to be prepared for emergencies. You can use these guides to help prepare your organization for an emergency, as well as to promote personal preparedness for your employees and volunteers.

Partners in Preparedness Newsletter for Private Sector Organizations

Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management launched the quarterly Partners in Preparedness newsletter for private sector partners in 2018.

Join the Distribution List

April 2019 Edition – print version

The Yonge Street Van Attack: One Year Later

April 23, 2019 marked the one year anniversary of the Yonge Street van attack. 10 people were killed and 16 were injured after a rented van was deliberately driven onto the sidewalk, striking numerous pedestrians on a sunny Toronto afternoon.

Immediately following the attack, many Yonge Street businesses opened their doors to the public and emergency responders to support the response efforts.

In the face of the tragedy, day-to-day business on that strip of Yonge Street was forced to return to normal almost immediately. Months later, some say a deeper sense of community has taken root because of the shared trauma and the necessity to move forward.

For many in the community, the hardest part was in the days that followed — returning to a daily routine after what had happened.

In response to this tragic event the City of Toronto continues to revise our plans and procedures for dealing with potential mass casualty events. Our Partners in Preparedness initiative was launched shortly after the attack to engage both the private sector and critical infrastructure owners. Our membership has grown to over 300 partners and it is our goal to strengthen these relationships in planning for, responding to, and recovering from extreme events.

Emergency Preparedness Week – Are you Ready?

Emergency Preparedness Week is an annual event encouraging Canadians to be prepared to protect themselves and their families during emergencies. This year, Emergency Preparedness Week runs from May 5 – 11.

While governments at all levels are working hard to keep Canada safe, everyone has a role to play in being prepared for an emergency; and being prepared means having the knowledge and equipment necessary to better cope during an emergency.

Emergency Preparedness Week encourages all Canadians to take three simple steps: know the risks, make a plan and prepare an emergency kit.

Emergency Preparedness Week is also a great opportunity for companies and organizations to ensure they are ready for an emergency. Your organization can use this event as an opportunity to kick start your emergency management program.

If you already have a program, you can work with your employees to find ways to improve your organization’s emergency readiness. For example, you can take some time during Emergency Preparedness Week to review your plan to make sure it’s up-to-date, provide training to help staff get familiar with your organization’s emergency procedures or hold a drill to give everyone a chance to practice using the response procedures.

Here are some materials that you can use to promote Emergency Preparedness Week in your organization:

Stop the Bleed

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is Canada’s home for Stop the Bleed, a training program that provides people with the tools and knowledge to stop life-threatening bleeding.

Massive bleeding can result from a workplace injury, road collision or violent incident. A person can bleed to death in four to five minutes, so it is important to provide quick and appropriate support. Bystanders are often the first responders during an emergency — and the help given by an immediate responder can make the difference between life and death, even before professional first responders arrive on scene.

Stop the Bleed is an initiative of the American College of Surgeons, started in 2015 in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. It aims to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

In 2017, Sunnybrook became the first hospital in Canada to offer the training. So far, Sunnybrook has trained 1500 people, including the general public, high school students and people that work in major public venues and landmarks. Interest in the program continues to grow, especially after recent mass casualty events in Toronto.

Sunnybrook offers the course onsite at its Bayview campus on the fourth Tuesday of almost every month. Sunnybrook also offers private courses for companies, organizations and high school students. All courses are taught by regulated health care professionals. For more information on how to get trained, visit Sunnybrook’s Stop the Bleed website.

Fire Safety

Toronto Fire Services provides information for building supervisory staff regarding and their responsibilities as it relates to fire safety and the Ontario Fire Code. This includes but is not limited to the following information:

  • prevention – tips to prevent fires that begin as a result of unattended cooking, candles and smoking
  • detection – regular maintenance of fire alarm systems, sprinklers and smoke and carbon alarms in units
  • escape – ensuring exits are clear, procedures are in place, door closers are functional, and regular fire drills are held

The Importance of Powerline Safety

As extreme weather increases in frequency, it’s more important than ever to ensure Torontonians are prepared to handle the resulting dangers of severe storms. With Powerline Safety Week taking place May 13-17, Toronto Hydro, in partnership with the City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management, Toronto Police Service and the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), are educating the public about the dangers posed by downed powerlines, poles and trees.

Between April and September in 2018, five major storms swept through Toronto and the GTA causing downed trees and powerlines and leaving a combined total of 175,000 customers without power. As a result, approximately 1,215 downed wires and 354 downed poles were reported last year.

While extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, research shows public awareness about powerline safety has decreased. In a recent survey conducted by Toronto Hydro, only 35% of people correctly identified the minimum safe distance to keep back from a downed wire – which is 10 metres, or the length of a school bus.

It’s critical for the public to know that every downed wire should be treated as a live wire that can electrify the ground. If a downed powerline is encountered, it should be immediately reported to Toronto Hydro at 416-542-8000 and to 9-1-1. To raise awareness and educate people about powerline safety, Toronto Hydro trucks and TTC buses will be wrapped with eye-catching graphics as part of a new campaign called Downed Lines are Deadly. For more information about powerline safety, visit www.torontohydro.com/powerlinesafety.

New Personal Preparedness Video

The Office of Emergency is excited to announce the release of a new personal preparedness video. This video provides tips on how to prepare for emergencies, such a making a plan and preparing a kit. Stay tuned as the Office of Emergency Management launches more videos on important preparedness topics over the next few months.

Partner Highlight

Since 2009, PATHcomm has been providing “real time” emergency communications to over 30 private sector properties and emergency services partners, helping to enhance security awareness in the City’s busiest area while increasing effective management and coordinated responses during emergencies. By leveraging a functional, two-way, interoperable communication platform, PATHcomm members are able to heighten their “situational awareness” so that resource deployment and decision making can be based on timely, accurate and reliable information. PATHcomm’s continued growth and success is a testament to its commitment to public/private partnerships and has been recognized as a best practice by law enforcement partners and industry experts including international security management organization ASIS.

Business Continuity Awareness Week – May 13-17, 2019

Business continuity planning is the product of three simple questions:

  1. What could go wrong?
  2. If something were to go wrong, how would it affect business operations?
  3. If business operations were affected, how would services continue or be restored?

Disruptions impacting a business can occur in many forms; they may be planned or completely unexpected. By assessing your business’ risks and dependencies, you can have strategies in place before a disruption. Such assessments and strategies, known respectively as business impact assessments (BIAs) and business continuity plans (BCPs), are critical to your organization’s long-term health and viability.

Disruptions will occur and you can’t plan for everything. But a robust and adaptable business continuity program is key to preserving corporate reputation by ensuring your organization can remain resilient and operational in an increasingly interdependent world.

Upcoming Events Calendar

Date Event Name
2019-05-05 Toronto Marathon
2019-05-11 Meagan’s Walk
2019-05-12 Sporting Life 10k
2019-06-02 Ride for Heart – DVP, Gardiner & Exhibition Place
2019-06-09 Aga Khan Foundation Canada – World Partnership Walk
2019-06-14 2019 Taste of Little Italy – College Street
2019-06-14 NXNE Festival Village – Yonge-Dundas Square
2019-06-15 Toronto Waterfront 10K
2019-06-16 Yorkville Exotic Car Show
2019-06-21 Pride Toronto
2019-06-23 Pride Parade
2019-07-01 Canada Day Celebration
2019-07-05 Taste of Lawrence
2019-07-06 TD Salsa on St. Clair
2019-07-12 Beaches International Jazz Festival
2019-07-13 Bloor West Street Fest
2019-07-25 Beaches International Jazz Festival Street Fest
2019-07-27 Taste of the Middle East- Yonge-Dundas Square

Upcoming Key Dates

Contact Us

By email at oem@toronto.ca

By phone at 416-392-4554

On Twitter at @TorontoOEM

March 2019 Edition – Print Version

Launching a New Newsletter

The City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management launched the Partners in Preparedness newsletter for private sector partners in 2018.

We have received good feedback from you on the newsletter – and we continue to have more groups sign up for our distribution list.

We are about to launch a version of the newsletter for community-based organizations, such as non-profit organizations and faith-based groups. The first issue will go out in March 2019.

If you any group that may benefit from receiving our newsletter for our community-based partners, please share this registration link.

You Are the Strongest Link

Every year, Toronto Paramedic Services responds to over 2,000 cardiac arrests.

Community members can save lives by doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) prior to the paramedics arriving.

In the chain of survival, you are the strongest link. Early CPR and AED can increase the chance of survival for someone experiencing a cardiac arrest by up to 75%.

11 year old Omar’s life was saved by a member of the public. He went into cardiac arrest while playing soccer and was successfully resuscitated by someone who performed CPR and used an AED while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. You can learn more Omar’s story.

Toronto Paramedic Services’ Safe City can assist your business in being emergency ready by educating your employees on First Aid, CPR and how to use an AED. Toronto Paramedic Services can also assist with all aspects of placing and maintaining AED’s in your workplace, including training, monitoring and registering the AED with 911.

Find out more about Toronto Paramedic Services’ Safe City program by emailing safecity@toronto.ca or calling 416-392-9833.

And remember, you are the strongest link!

Run-Hide-Defend

York Regional Police is proud to take the lead on educating individuals, community organizations and businesses on life-saving strategies that can be used in the event of an active attacker.

York Regional Police’s active attacker survival strategy Run, Hide, Defend provides tools that employers and community organizations can review with their staff to give them the best chance of survival in case of an attack. Individuals, businesses and community organizations can incorporate Run, Hide, Defend principles into emergency management and critical incident response plans they have already developed.

The risk of active attacks have unfortunately risen, both locally and abroad, with 40% of incidents taking place in commercial or institutional spaces. Developing specific strategies addressing prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for the possibility of an active attacker enhances everyone’s safety and improves organizational resiliency.

The Run, Hide, Defend principles are detailed in a scenario-based video and supporting documents, including posters and pamphlets that can be downloaded and posted within your business or organization. An Active Attacker Response Implementation Guide is also available.

For more information about the Run, Hide, Defend strategy, visit the York Regional Police’s website.

City of Toronto’s Incident Management System moves to the Cloud

In December 2018, the City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management migrated DisasterLAN (DLAN) – our web-based incident management software system – to the Cloud. This move allows user access to DLAN’s common operating picture, real-time incident updates, and situational awareness. This move allows 24/7 access from anywhere, using any web-enabled device.

DLAN has been configured to operate within the City’s IMS structure. It has the ability to streamline the flow of information throughout the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), and to electronically link the EOC with Divisional Operations Centres (DOCs), Emergency Site Incident Commanders, and other key officials, to manage both planned events and emergencies.

For information related to Toronto’s DLAN system please contact Laura James at Laura.James@toronto.ca.

Join the City of Toronto Heat Relief Network

While we all eagerly await summer, the City of Toronto is already looking at ways to help residents keep cool when temperatures start to climb over the summer months. One of the easiest ways to avoid the health risks associated with summer heat is to find a place to cool down. In previous years, the City has had a Heat Relief Network made up of community centres, libraries and other public buildings where the public can cool off.

This year, the City of Toronto is expanding the Heat Relief Network by partnering with private and non-profit organizations. If your business has an accessible, air-conditioned indoor space that you can make available to the wider community throughout the summer season (May 15 – September 30), consider joining the City’s Heat Relief Network.

Your space will be featured in the City of Toronto’s interactive online map of Heat Relief Network locations and recognized as a neighbourhood resource for people looking to cool down. City staff will provide information and work with you to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have, in considering this partnership.

If your organization is interested in joining the City of Toronto Heat Relief Network, please reach out to Toronto Public Health Senior Project Manager Sonya Bourgeois at 416-338-7443 or Sonya.Bourgeois@toronto.ca.

2019 Key Dates

  • Emergency Preparedness Week, May 5-11
  • Public Alerting Test, May 8
  • Business Continuity Awareness Week, May 13-17

Contact Us

James Kilgour, Director
Office of Emergency Management
James.kilgour@toronto.ca
Jennifer Smysnuik, Manager
Office of Emergency Management
Jennifer.smysnuik@toronto.ca

December 2018 Edition – Print Version

The OEM Gets a New Home

At the end of October, a few organizational changes occurred at the City of Toronto. City Manager, Chris Murray, announced a realignment of some of the city’s services. As a result, the Office of Emergency Management was brought under the oversight of the Fire Chief and General Manager, Toronto Fire Services in an effort to reinforce an already solid relationship and improve emergency response coordination.

Over the coming months, OEM will develop a multi-year work plan in collaboration with colleagues in Toronto Fire to strengthen our Emergency Operations Centre capacity, refine plans and procedures related to special / extreme events and other specific risks as well as further developing the city’s business continuity and community resiliency initiatives.

The OEM is hopeful that continued work on the Partners in Preparedness initiative will contribute positively to improving the overall resiliency of the city.

Emergency Management – eLearning

The Office of Emergency Management maintains 24/7 operational readiness in case of an emergency event. The City of Toronto now offers an introductory eLearning course “OEM Emergency Management 100” for anyone interested in learning more about emergency management in Toronto. Please send an email to oemtrainingexercises@toronto.ca for a copy of the eLearning course.

Toronto’s 11th Annual Emergency Management Symposium

The 2018 Toronto Emergency Management Symposium took place at the Toronto Police College on 70 Birmingham St., Toronto on November 14 and 15.

Over 400 working professionals came together in order to educate themselves and interact with other working professionals in the field of emergency management. This symposium offered a unique networking opportunity for individuals from private and public organizations to share their experience and knowledge within the field of emergency management.

Highlights of this years event included presentations on:

  • Vegas October 1 Mass Casualty Event
  • Crowd Safety and Special Events Planning
  • UK Mass Casualty Bureau and Victim Supports

Attendance this year was our largest to date and many of you were in attendance thanks to the “partners in preparedness” private sector engagement initiative.

Neighbourhood Resilience

The concept of neighbourhood resilience is emerging as a way to help reduce the direct and indirect impacts of emergencies. In addition to acknowledging the natural and human caused hazards that exist, to truly understand what a community needs to become more resilient, there needs to be a holistic picture of what makes up a given neighbourhood from a social, economic and infrastructure perspective. If some of the root causes of vulnerability in a neighbourhood can be identified and pro-actively addressed, overall community resiliency can be improved to lessen the effects when an emergency occurs.

Currently, there is not a lot of guidance or tools to assist with identifying, planning and executing measures to improve resilience. To date, the OEM has pushed the preparedness message that everyone should have an emergency kit and be prepared to take care of themselves for 72 hours following an emergency. While there is no intention to cease that message, it has become evident that a more community based, ‘neighbour helping neighbour’ approach is needed to make people generally more resilient.

With the insight and assistance of multiple stakeholders (both internal and external), OEM is hoping to explore a number of initiatives to address the idea of neighbourhood resilience and what might be done to implement change, such as examining hazards affecting the built and natural environment to better understand the vulnerabilities of specific neighbourhoods and propose improvements, and working with private sector partners to examine a potential role for their participation in enhancing neighbourhood resilience in their own communities.

Communications Update

Did you know that the City of Toronto Strategic Communications Division and the Office of Emergency Management co-chair an Emergency Risk Communicators Network (ERCoN)? This network brings together individuals from various City divisions and external agencies to share public education campaign materials and best practices with their peers in the field. It also helps to familiarize participants with other emergency communicators so that when an incident happens, contacts are already established.

In conjunction with the OEM’s Family and Friends Assistance Centre planning, a sub-group of communications professionals was proposed to look at how risk communications are coordinated in events that also greatly impact the hospital system. This follows the lessons learned from the Yonge-Finch van attack incident, where it was determined that coordination of communication messages with the hospitals would have provided residents with a more unified message.

ERCoN is always open to new members who also work in crisis communications. If you would like a communications professional from your organization to be included, please send an email to Jennifer.smysnuik@toronto.ca.

Winter Preparedness

While the danger from winter weather varies across Ontario, most people are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. That could mean snow or subfreezing temperatures, as well as strong winds, ice or heavy rain storms. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, winter storms and excessive cold claim over 100 lives each year in this country – which is more than the combined number of deaths caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, extreme heat and lightning each year.

As we head into the winter season, this is a good time for businesses and organizations to consider their readiness for cold weather-related hazards. You can get started by reviewing our Guide to Business Continuity Planning for more information on how to put together a plan.

Once you have a plan in place, consider running an exercise to test your plan. By simulating a cold weather event, you can figure out if your plan is up-to-date and ready to be used. For example, exercise your plan to figure out if it includes procedures for telling employees how they can find out if the business is open, how their schedule may be changed, and what they should do if they are unable to make it to work due to the weather.

And finally, take this opportunity to teach your employees about the risk posed by winter weather. You can educate staff on:

  • the potential impacts of winter storms
  • the terms that Environment and Climate Change Canada uses to describe changing weather conditions
  • the importance of having supplies ready to stay at home for up to three days without power, water or heat
  • your organization’s business continuity plan

For more information on the risks posed by winter weather, visit getprepared.gc.ca.

August 2018 Edition – Print Version

Summer Preparedness?

We tend to think of severe weather hazards during the snowy and icy winter, but summer weather can present us with just as many risks. Extreme heat has been a concern throughout much of the world this summer. High heat and humidity can have significant risks to health. Hot weather thunderstorms can lead to risks of lightning strikes and high wind damage. Heavy rains can result in flooding, causing disruption to transportation networks and the risk of potentially serious property    damage. In light of the wide range of potential risks, it is always a good time to evaluate your own level of vulnerability, as well as the risks faced by your family, home and business.

Is your organization prepared to manage the impacts of severe summer weather and ensure ongoing operations? Check out our guide to Business Continuity Planning for more information on how to put  your plan together.

You can also find out more about how to prepare for severe weather in the summer months at Environment Canada.

Toronto Home Resilience Program

Through research and outreach in the development of the City’s resilience strategy, urban flooding has emerged as a key concern for many. To help homeowners address this issue, the City of Toronto is supporting a new pilot program — the Toronto Home Resilience Program.

This Program is an emergency preparedness and flood risk reduction  education service that provides homeowners with emergency management resources and a confidential Home Flood Protection Assessment to help reduce their risk of basement flooding. By participating in this program, homeowners can better assess their flood risk and make educated decisions to help prevent damage to their home and property.

From July through September 2018, up to 200 homeowners can participate. Subsidized home assessments are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a fee of $95.

What you can expect:

A Home Flood Protection Assessment that takes 60 to 90 minutes and includes:

  • Emergency preparedness resources
  • 50-point visual inspection of flood risks inside and outside your home by a trained assessor
  • Confidential report that identifies top actions you can take to reduce your risk of flooding
  • Optional follow-up phone call with your inspector to discuss the report
  • Optional seasonal maintenance reminders sent to you via email

Developing Partnerships

As a follow up from our spring workshop, representatives from Canadian Tire’s  Enterprise Crisis & Business Continuity Management team met with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to discuss possibilities for ongoing engagement.

Together, we discussed opportunities, including our shared partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and the possibility of coordinating product donations during emergencies. Canadian Tire has been extensively involved across Canada where communities have experienced emergency situations such as providing needed supplies, water and other crisis-specific inventory to support communities across Canada. For example, they were present in British Columbia and New Brunswick during this year’s flood season with donations of water, sandbags and other products.

Canadian Tire is participating in a climate change roundtable in September with other private sector companies who are interested in discussing innovative approaches to business resilience and community stewardship in the face of climate change.

The workshop included a program overview and introduction to the Office of  Emergency Management, Toronto Police Emergency Management and Public Order Unit, and the Resilient Toronto office. Participants were given an overview of the City’s Business Continuity program, as well as our requirements to develop a Critical Infrastructure  inventory.

There was also an opportunity for those involved to provide feedback on the direction and future of this new initiative.

What is CPTED?

CPTED is a proactive design philosophy built around a core set of principles that is based on the belief that the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime as well as an improvement in the quality of life.

CPTED goes well beyond conventional approaches to safeguarding the environment by exploiting natural forms of surveillance, access control and territorial reinforcement in a deliberate attempt to present a psychological deterrent for the purpose of positively influencing human behaviour as people interact with the environment.

Potential CPTED benefits include:

  • productive use of space
  • improved function and/or profit
  • reduced exposure to fear, crime, loss and liability
  • partnerships and problem solving
  • improved quality of life, and
  • major cost savings.

For more information visit the CPTED website.

OEM Special Events — Update

Expanding on the event Emergency Action Plan program, OEM has started  assisting in a liaison capacity, with event emergency planning and co-ordinated response. This includes roundtable discussions with event organizers, along with emergency service partners to provide a common operating picture for all  stakeholders to work from. An evidence-based decision making approach helps co-ordinate a unified event emergency plan that addresses common operational concerns for any event size or format.