Book Review: "Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada" (Emond Publishing)

Alexander Landry
Strategic Initiatives Specialist, Canadian Journal of Emergency Management, and Canadian Army Officer.

Collins & Blackburn (Eds.). (2022). Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada. Toronto, Ontario: Emond Publishing.

ISBN 978-1-77255-678-0.  $86.00 CAD.

Book Review

With Canada now halfway through its third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, while concurrently facing various climate change related threats across the country throughout all seasons of the year, the emergency management domain continues to gain importance both in practical and academic terms. Accordingly, the Government of Canada underlined this fact with their announcement in May of renewed commitments to working with the NGOs of the Humanitarian Workforce towards providing assistance in times of large-scale emergencies within Canadian communities – ultimately recognizing the fact that emergency management and public safety rest in symbiosis both practically and academically moving forward. It is within this setting that Emond Publishing has consequently assembled a stellar cast of professionals within the emergency management sphere of influence to publish Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada – a first of its kind looking both at the pillars of emergency management while also providing the depth required for the members on the ground in tactical terms.

Through a waterfall approach of framework, risk and hazard identification, then prevention & mitigation, Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada provides basis for emergency management, subsequently moving readers through concepts such as preparedness, newly minted concepts of business continuity, then post-operation requirements such as response, recovery, and resilience. Coupled with emphasis on specific pillars such as communication and incident command, what Collins and Blackburn’s text does well in a time of more frequent and severe emergencies in Canada is define emergency management, identifying governance and stakeholders, while subsequently outlining various specific topics that have been relevant to the community for the past decade. As they underline, “most Canadians have been affected by an emergency in some way, some with minor effects, whereas others can be traumatic and life changing”. Consequently, what makes the textbook so valuable beyond its academic contribution is its capacity for use by the nonprofessional within the context of emergency management through the provision of tips, tricks, and checklists that even a family household can leverage towards enhancing its own preparedness.

Throughout the textbook, chapters are organized via a generic academic basis, framing topics with an introduction, providing the information succinctly, and then outlining a chapter summary to be followed by review questions and situational exercises. As such, it is these last few items that truly have this textbook stand out amongst other academic works. Using the unique situational-based activity “Boots on the Ground” in each chapter, Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada is able to widen its target audience from the academic margins towards the practical users and operators within the emergency management profession. Essentially, these chapter sections provide a basis for tactical use in addition to a foundation for problem-solving exercises targeted at those involved with frontline operations.

With its impact on the academic and technical communities outlined, Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada takes it a step further, as the material proves itself particularly relevant to Canadian society by linking in news stories through the “In The News” sections. This then identifies relatable situations for readers, demonstrating application of the principles and material of emergency management introduced within the text to these events. Ultimately, along with the previously identified value to the emergency management community, what this enables is a continued shift from the traditional mindset of standalone stakeholders within the domain to one of communal engagement and a collective approach.

As such, as the world continues to change at a rapidly increasing pace with a growing number of hazards facing communities, this textbook becomes foundational in defining both the strategies and tactics used within the greater emergency management community. With very few reproaches in an otherwise sound academic product, Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada should not only provide readers an understanding of emergency management, but also ultimately enable them to prepare for the realities of emergency preparedness and their management moving forward. It is clear that the authors here have made an impactful contribution in advancing the awareness, knowledge, and best practices of emergency management in Canada. For these reasons and, based on the assembly of the professionals within the community at hand, Introduction to Emergency Management in Canada is strongly recommended for emergency practitioners and academics alike. It will likely be foundational moving forward to the rhetoric surrounding emergency management for years to come.

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