On the occasion of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by DRI International

Awards of Excellence_Winner - Lifetime AchievementAcceptance speech by Brian Miller on the occasion of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by DRI International on March 8, 2016

Friends, colleagues and conference delegates; as I stand here before you this evening, I feel somewhat uneasy because I know of many others who are also deserving of this award. Congratulations to all the nominees; the nomination itself is an important recognition of a significant contribution to our profession. I wish to thank the people in Canada, United States and other countries who took the time to cast a vote for any of the candidates.

It is indeed a great honour to be recommended and selected by my peers and it is many of those same people to whom I owe such gratitude for supporting me through the times when difficult decisions were made and significant risks taken to ensDRI Awardure and augment our profession.

My career in business continuity and emergency management has been enhanced by my involvement in DRI CANADA, DRI International, the Disaster Recovery Information Exchange and the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness. While I contributed to these organizations in leadership roles, they gave back so much more than I put in. It is like having a bank account that pays 125% interest on deposits.

The words “lifetime achievement” sound like it is the end of a great period but there remains much more to come! I am looking forward to achieving many more milestones in our profession and I ask you to join me on the rest of the journey. I am appealing to you to seek opportunities to volunteer within our profession, it is only through selfless dedication that we can all move forward. Teddy Roosevelt said it best: Far and away, the best prize in life is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.


Strong Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans include employee home preparedness

Resiliency of your Emergency Management and Business Continuity Plans rely on company human resources to ensure that the processes you have put in place are put into action. In any catastrophic event, our natural instinct is to protect ourselves and our family.  In time of crisis, the employee you need on site may not be available because of concerns at home. Alternatively, the employee may be on site for you but the worry about family members at home may interfere with the employee’s ability to fully focus on your needs.

As the first full week of May marks Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, it’s a good time to think about ensuring your employees are prepared at home in the event that you need them at work to implement your EM and BC plans. What can your employees do to be ready at home in the event you need them to help in a time of crisis? What can you do to help them focus on your needs and ensure that their families are taken care of while they are at work?

Here are just a few ideas to help you prepare your employees in case you need them:

  • Provide information about home emergency preparedness in your plan training and exercise sessions.
  • Create a flyer or webpage with tips to emergency preparedness for your employees.
  • Encourage your employees to create a family emergency plan. Kids love scavenger hunts. What a great way to have your employee make it a fun family activity by challenging their children to hunt around the house to fill their emergency preparedness kit.
  • Include in your EM and BC plans some potential options to ensure the safety and welfare of your employees’ families in the event you need them at work. Knowing their families are safe will benefit both you and your employees by allowing them to focus on your needs without worrying about their family members.

Public Safety Canada has a wealth of information and materials that you can share with employees, including promotional materials, flyers and posters. You can find more information at http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/.

Get prepared! Know the risks, create your family plan and prepare your emergency kit.

Vanguard EMC endorses the Reaching Resilience BC/EM conference 2013

There is a lot of choice when it comes to quality business continuity and emergency management conference style educational opportunities in Canada and the US.

The WCDM in Toronto in June is always a big attraction and has provided our profession with many years of sessions to reinforce our knowledge and provoke our thought. EPICC in Vancouver is another venue that has been available for professionals in the Western provinces.

The 2013 Reaching Resilience Conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Center on May 27, 28, 2013 is a focused learning event that is organized by Malcolm Smeaton who in his previous role with the Ontario government chaired a similar event for six years from 2007 to 2012. Each year that conference was a great success, thanks primarily to the support of delegates and presenters. Reaching Resilience includes speakers on security, business continuity, cyber security, life safety, workplace violence, privacy and crisis management. Speakers came from the public service, academia, police, military, business, industry and the legal community. They also hail from all across Canada and the United States.

This year, three members of our Vanguard EMC team will be presenting at Reaching Resilience on the topic of Getting the Best Value from Exercises. In our practice, Lisa Maddock, Cynthia Wenn and I participate in the detailed planning, facilitation and report creation for many medium and large scale exercises including multiple rooms and simulation cells. While providing our clients with methodology, advice and experience we have also garnered a significant amount of exposure to the subtleties regarding what works and what does not. In addition, we have developed some unique methods of simulating communication and social media that will be helpful to the Reaching Resilience conference delegates.

We believe there is good value in this conference and encourage you to look at the program on their web site 2013 Reaching Resilience Conference

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Are medium and small businesses more vulnerable to disasters than other organizations?

First: governments do not go out of business following a disaster. Certainly there have been changes to how a government entity is structured and managed following the post disaster analysis.

Second: I have not personally witnessed nor can I validate through research, any large cap company that did not survive following a disaster. The great ice storm of 1998 devastated businesses in upstate New York, Québec and Ontario but there is not a single piece of evidence of a large company ceasing operations in the short or long term following that disaster. The same applies to investigations of large companies following 9-11, Katrina and the Oklahoma City – Alfred Murrah building bombing. The only case that might have a remote connection is the devastating May 1988 fire at the First Interstate Bank in Los Angeles. The bank declared bankruptcy in June of 1998 and a part of the cause may have been debt accumulated following the fire but that remains speculation.

Third: Small and medium businesses are the most vulnerable to disasters because they often do not have the cash reserves or borrowing capacity to re-establish operations following a disaster.

How many companies go out of business following a disaster?

There are various numbers used by different public and private sector prognosticators but the source of the information is suspect. In other words; is the number of business failures presented used as a means of accomplishing the organizations objectives of obtaining attention to the issue or gaining a business advantage?

I believe that it is safe to assume that some small to medium businesses will not survive a large scale disaster such as Katrina or 9-11. However, will those same business owners and managers start another similar business? Will someone else create a new business to fill the void created by the failure of another? Does overall business activity suffer in the long term following a disaster? Many would speculate that, in the short term, business activity increases based on the need to rebuild and re-establish operations.

Small and medium businesses could, if motivated, go a long way to preparing for a disaster by examining four key aspects of survival:
1. People: who will do the work following a disaster?
2. Information: How many hours or days of data and associated changes can the entity afford to lose permanently and be unable to recreate? How quickly must the data be available for use?
3. Technology: What equipment, tools and supplies will be required following the disaster in order to conduct business.
4. Workplace or facility: Where will the business and it employees work from if the primary premises are destroyed or inaccessible for more than a few days?

There is, of course, much more to business continuity preparation than these four questions. Each business is unique and the details will be different. My advice to any small business is to have a good understanding and plan for the People and Information aspects as soon as possible and then work away at the Technology and Workplace issues over time.


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