A conversation between Shaun Koopman and Jason Greidanus
1. What is your role with Strathcona County?
Jason Greidanus: Assistant Chief – Emergency Management and Deputy Director of Emergency Management at Strathcona County, Alberta.
2. To what do you attribute your interest in emergency management and when did you first become aware of your interest in this discipline?
Jason Greidanus: In my career with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) I’ve always had some exposure to emergency management, whether it was through firefighting and damage control at sea, which all sailors are trained to do, or when I specialized in Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Defence. That role introduced me to the Incident Command System and formal EOC practices, which created an awareness of the EM discipline.
When I really became passionate about EM was when I started the MA in Disaster and Emergency Management (MADEM) program at Royal Roads. That program introduced me to the professional field of EM and all the interesting opportunities and people.
2. What is your academic background?
Jason Greidanus: I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Commerce, and have had a broad range of military leadership and occupational training since then.
My CBRN training includes my basic and advanced CBRN Defence officer training in Canada, NATO courses in the United Kingdom and Germany, and training with United States and Canadian responders.
In 2016 I expect to complete the MADEM at Royal Roads University.
3. What do you do on the job and what are your favourite aspects of your work?
Jason Greidanus: So far the most gratifying moment was when I was working in support of the Fort McMurray wildfires. Between the incident management I did on scene and the coordination of Strathcona County resources locally, I saw everyone’s effort making a tremendous difference. The entire country coming to their assistance was an inspiration. When I arrived in Fort McMurray on May 3 there was a clear strength and determination shown by the local emergency responders to overcome the situation, but also relief when assistance had started to arrive, and hope that the situation would soon be brought under control.
4. What are some vital lessons your role has taught you?
Jason Greidanus: You don’t need to have all the answers, but you should have a good idea of where you can look to find them. In my organization there are a lot of really smart people with a lot of really good ideas. They might not be “emergency managers” but they can make decisions, deal with uncertainty, operate under time pressures, and tackle problems with enthusiasm. Because of these attributes they’ll probably do really well with a bit of EM training and an opportunity to get involved.
5. How do you feel your job will be influence by climate change?
Jason Greidanus: I think that climate change will have a significant impact on my job and Strathcona County overall. There has been a trend over the past several years of milder winters and less precipitation, resulting in an earlier wildfire season with more significant wildfire events.
The other impact is within the oil and gas industry in Alberta as a whole, but also in Strathcona County as part of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland: as the industry adapts in response to climate change, so do the hazards, which in turn requires emergency preparedness activities to adapt as well. It will require everyone in EM to be vigilant and adaptable to a very dynamic situation.