A review of the University of Alberta’s response to the midsummer HUB Mall shootings has yielded 19 recommendations to improve the university emergency response
Compiled by Risk Management Services, the recommendations are an amalgamation of two separate internal reports the university conducted. It provides eight suggestions for changes to the U of A’s Crisis Management Team (CMT) as part of one report on operations and procedures, and 11 more recommendations regarding a report on the university’s communication processes.
The recommendations range from increased dispatch staffing for University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) to a formal identification of the University’s Interfaith Chaplains Association as a key resource within the CMT structure, which will include training for chaplains on the operating and functioning of the CMT and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
Acting Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Martin Ferguson-Pell said there is no simple answer to when the changes will be implemented, but that work is already in progress.
“Some of (the changes are) relatively small, but some of them maybe require a great deal more complexity,” he said.
“Things are already happening — they have been for a long time right from the time of the event — where we are responding to lessons that we learned.”
Ferguson-Pell said the fact that 19 recommendations came out of the reports isn’t surprising, since the event that sparked the review was itself complex.
“The response has many different components to it in order to look at how we were functioning,” he said.
“The support for students, support for people who were affected, all those components we’ve reviewed and looked at to make sure we’ve learned as much as we can going forward.”
For all the recommendations, Ferguson-Pell said there is currently activity going on in responding to them.
“There are none that we have disagreed with or would not respond to, but in nearly every case at the moment we’re still in the process of working through the response to recommendations in order to, in some cases, bring about change, or feed the information we’ve gathered into perhaps a change in procedure,” he explained.
“The whole way we respond to emergencies is an ongoing, continuous process … The process of initiating a (review) was essentially automatic in the sense that it’s just what you do whenever you have a significant event.”
In the report’s introduction, it states that although the Edmonton Police Service was in charge of the situation the CMT was required to provide support to first responders, displaced U of A residents, impacted members of the community and university events affected by the incident.
According to Ferguson-Pell, this is the topic of a third review, which is being done by an external source.
“We should have a report on that by the end of October or beginning of November. This is an external review so that we’ve got the views of an independent external individual who’s an expert in these issues,” he said.
Although Ferguson-Pell was not directly involved in the creation of the recommendations document, he said the review process began instantly.
“(It isn’t like) an event occurred on the 23rd of June, and now we’ve got a review that occurred and it’s the 2nd of October, and nothing happened in the middle. Things started happening within hours in terms of how we would be reviewing and conceivably modifying some of that process,” he said.
“The people who were involved … had an opportunity to go around the room and say, ‘What are the things we need to address, what are the things we’ve learned, what are the things we should be highlighting with the review?’”
The recommendations document was approved Sept. 27. It can be viewed at www.oem.ualberta.ca/Recommendations.aspx
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