Bay Roberts na­tive changes course

Dar­ren Butt in­struc­tor for new emer­gency man­age­ment pro­gram in Stephenville

The Compass - - ORTHTE -

“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.”

World-class fa­cil­ity

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.”

Emer­gency sim­u­la­tion

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 for more in­for­ma­tion.

Sub­mit­ted photo

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.

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