Bay Roberts native changes course
Darren Butt instructor for new emergency management program in Stephenville
“What can I do to make my world better for your kids, my kids, my family, your family, and to ensure at your deepest and darkest moment that there is a shining light at the other end?”
That’s the question Bay Roberts native Darren Butt asked himself on Sept. 11, 2001 after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City. Butt was on his way to British Columbia on board one of the last airplanes to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. That day changed his life and the course of his career from communications to the emergency management field.
Butt feels disaster and emergency managers “walk into places where angels fear to tread because we have no other choice.”
The opportunity to develop a program from the ground up, which utilizes his extensive knowledge and experience, brought him to Stephenville as the instructor of a new one-year post-diploma emergency management program at the Bay St. George campus of College of the North Atlantic (CNA). He will pass along his extensive knowledge of emergency management techniques through cutting-edge technology in a world-class facility.
“I’ve seen emergency operation centres from coast to coast to coast, all over this planet and I am just completely blown away by the resources, the capabilities, and the infrastructure of Stephenville.”
He said the area provides a significant number of resources, including a first-rate fire department, police organization, health authority, port system, airport and emergency operation centre that the college will be able to link to.
But said he couldn’t have found a better location with a better setup than what is available at CNA, adding there will be great demand for graduates of this program.
“We’re seeing more and more people actually drawing the recognition that they need to have dedicated professionals ensuring our province and our nation is better prepared for a future disaster or emergency event — everything from earthquakes, to mudslides, to urban interface wildfires, to biological events, to oil and gas emergencies, you name it.”
The program is open to students who have a certificate, diploma or degree from a recognized institution.
There are two qualities an emergency management specialist needs — to be proactive and be adaptive.
“A disaster and emergency management practitioner should have no issues dealing with an evacuation of 40 people or the evacuation of 4,000. They should have no issue dealing with a crisis that would see a community cut off as opposed to a region being cut off because they just scalar in nature and of course the instruments, the theories, the concepts are exactly the same — we will ensure our candidates have these types of global skill.”
The program will also offer the opportunity for collaboration with other college programs, including GIS Application Specialist which will allow participants to use emergency simulation software in combination with GIS software to create any disaster scenario imaginable.
“The capabilities of that program linked into the Emergency Management program allow us to model any area of Newfoundland and Labrador and create our own natural hazard environment. If we need to know what effect a 170 km/h wind from the northeast will have on Carbonear, combining that with rapid storm surging and current architecture and flooding zones, we would actually see what would happen to that town should such an event occur.”
Essentially, the program will be able to simulate any disaster or emergency anywhere in the world.
“If we wanted to replay 9/11 we could do that again. The (software) allows us to go back and be proactive and say, ‘OK, this is what we need to do,’ so that if an event actually occurs, we will have based everything on a worst case scenario — that’s what our science is based on.”
Butt said his position allows him the opportunity to come in on a ground floor of the new Emergency Management program and develop it according to his experiences. His extensive knowledge of government needs will directly tie into classroom experience for students.
“Governments, be it municipal, provincial, national or international, do not simply want a professional who simply comes out and talks only theory, they want to have trained and dedicated professionals, versed in the science of disaster and emergency management who can readily jump into business continuity, hazard and risk vulnerability analysis, surge capacities, protection from chemical and biological events, and then, of course, environmental capabilities, but also safety,” he added.
Butt said current job projections for disaster and emergency management specialists within Canada are extremely high in many fields, especially within Newfoundland and Labrador. The program has seats available for 16 candidates. Visit www.cna.nl.ca for more information.
Da r r e n B u t t , a B ay Roberts native and new emergency management instructor at College of the North Atlantic’s Bay St. George campus, was deeply impacted by the attack on the World Trade Centre on Sept. 11, 2001. The eve n t s o f t h a t d ay changed his life and his career aspirations.