Increasing tensions around the globe have created a heightened awareness about safety and security, particularly in terms of public buildings and spaces. This is particularly true in Ottawa, where the terrible tragedies of the Parliament Hill in October of 2014 brought the reality of security threats much closer to home. Additional incidents such as the Rideau Street sinkhole of June 2016 serve to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness. Nobody expects an emergency or disaster, especially one that personally affects them, their employees or their business. Yet the simple truth is that emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime and anywhere.

At Shaw Centre, we host more than 600,000 people every year, and we understand that it is our responsibility to keep every guest safe, regardless of the emergency. The situations we plan and prepare for include accidents, pandemics, fire, assault, robbery, civil protests and numerous other possibilities. But it’s not just about drafting policies and procedures. For us, emergency and security protocols are an on-going, often-revisited subject as we believe procedures and guidelines need to evolve constantly with our surroundings and within the context of local, national and international events.

Aside from the major benefit of enabling and empowering our team to expertly provide guidance and reassurance during an emergency, preparedness planning plan has other advantages. The planning process may bring to light deficiencies that can be proactively addressed and rectified well before an emergency occurs. In addition, having a well-crafted emergency plan promotes safety awareness and demonstrates our organization’s commitment to the safety of both staff and guests.

For effective management, we have appointed one person on our team to take charge overall of safety and security at Shaw Centre. They are supported in this role by a Safety and Security Committee composed of colleagues of all levels. Such centralization enables the effectiveness and efficiency of the Committee, not only in terms of discussion topics but also for follow-up on implementation by all departments. This structure, as well as the discipline of regular meetings, allows us to establish and refine policies, procedures and training strategies, to cover all areas related to safety and security, as well as drills and simulations.

The key areas upon which we focus include:

  • Effective Communication (before, during and after an emergency);
  • Teamwork (to plan or to react to emergency situations in a coordinated way);
  • Problem Solving (to accurately evaluate the emergency, identify solutions to respond and counteract the situation);
  • Initiative (taking responsibility on a daily basis as well as articulating own ideas and visions);
  • Learning (using a range of learning media including mentoring, peer support and networking, IT and courses); and
  • Technology (utilizing a variety of communication and emergency technologies).

The security of both visiting delegates and colleagues is a priority at Shaw Centre and we work hard to create favourable conditions for a successful emergency response.

One recent initiative launched to support our emergency preparedness is a mobile app (for iOS, Android or Blackberry) that gives our delegates and meeting planners access to the protocols for 17 different types of emergencies, such as fire alarms, evacuations or power failure. I am confident that these safety features, combined with the specialized training of Shaw Centre’s frontline employees, will help keep everyone under our roof safe in the unlikely event of an emergency.