Thursday, March 16, 2017

Leadership in a crisis in Québec? A snowball's chance in hell !

I am from Montréal ... Even though I now live in Ontario ... Je suis Montréalais ! So, it's with a sense of shame that I must draw attention to the complete clusterf**k of their response to the recent snowstorm. 

Québec and snow ... shouldn't be an issue right ? They knew the big storm was coming ... at least 48 hours before ...if not earlier than that. So what in the hell were they doing during all that time? 

I've sat in provincial level EOCs ... I've been part of command discussions as lead PIO ... I know that in Ontario there are discussions with key parties involved about foreseen hazards such as severe weather and plans to coordinate a possible response. Now, I must wonder what kind of system they have in my province of birth.

Hundreds of drivers left stranded in their cars for 12-13 hours during a very bad storm ... not in the boondocks ... deep in the hinterland ... not even in the outer suburbs ... but in Montreal itself ... 

Elsewhere across Ontario and Québec, we saw huge pileups and even a couple of deaths when workers became stuck in deep drifts in whiteout conditions. In other words, it was a bad storm.

Heroic rescue efforts were deployed to no avail in the case of the deadly incident near Québec City. That storm was just that bad.

But attention needs to be brought to the total lack of preparation by all parties around Montréal. From provincial ministries (Ministry of Public Safety, Ministry of Transportation), first responder agencies and municipal government agencies. I hope many heads roll ... there's just no excuse for that level of incompetence and lack of leadership by senior officials. 

No one said: "Hey, we're taking lead on this ....We'll be prepared!" 

Here's what should have been done: 

  • set up teleconference calls in the days/hours ahead to review planning and interoperability issues (the police called transportation officials more than 100 times with no responses while motorists were stranded ...)
  • Plans should have been aligned and contact established between various command centres ...
  • better still ... a unified command system should have been established ... goddamn it !  train for it ... drill for it ... plan for it ... and effing put it in place when it's time ! 
  • A joint information centre with representatives from all agencies involved should have been created 
  • the JIC should have had an operational social media listening operations in place during the storm to improve overall situational awareness and keep info flowing and respond directly to those who might have been at risk 
It's just not normal to have people stranded in their cars in the second largest city in Canada during a snow storm ... 

What are we ? Texans ? (sorry Texas ... could have been Oklahoma or Arkansas ... I picked you ... you're just bigger ! ) 

I hope a full after-action report leads to improvements ... a full move to the ICS/IMS in Québec and adoption of a unified command posture for big events/incidents. 

But hey, that makes too much sense ... I"m angry en maudit ! 

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