Winning the Emergency Management Exemplary Service award a ‘team’ accomplishment
November 14, 2022
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Northern Sunrise County deputy fire chief Julien Bergeron, in northern Alberta, will be receiving the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Emergency Management award in Ottawa this December.
Bergeron will be recognized with the Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award, an award given to an individual in Canada as a way to show recognition for exceptional service and achievement.
The award is a partnership between provincial, territorial, and federal governments. It is a way to recognize recipients who have achieved excellence in their emergency management field, including community-based volunteers, people working in all levels of government in emergency management organizations, and Indigenous communities.
“We (in emergency management) tend to do what needs to be done and would like to think that with the sole purpose of saving lives and protecting property and environment,” says Bergeron. “To be recognized for this is unexpected but truly appreciated.”
Bergeron notes that even though he is the recipient of the award, he doesn’t feel it is a personal victory, but rather a regional recognition.
“Northwest Alberta has always been special in the bond it possesses between different municipalities, agencies, and organizations,” he says. “Our population base is low, our area is huge, and our resources are limited. This has always forced us to work in collaboration with one another to conquer challenges we face.”
Bergeron explains that emergency management is no different, and he will be representing the whole team when he receives his award in December.
“It took a team from across the region to come together to do what is right,” he says. “Not just for our own municipalities, but for the entire region.”
Bergeron grew up on a farm just outside St. Isidore. He started working as a volunteer firefighter for the county in the summer of 2006, was then employed in 2012 as a fire prevention officer, and finally promoted to deputy fire chief in 2014.
He said he started focusing on emergency management in 2017 while helping the development of Alberta Task Force 1 – 1 of 5 regional All-Hazard Incident Management Teams (AHIMT) in the province.
“These AHIMTs are built by municipal government members to assist municipalities in need when they face incidents,” he explains. “Examples of ABTF-1 deployments (in which I took part of ) 2019 Chuckegg Creek Wildfire, 2020 Peace River flooding in Fort Vermilion, Makenzie County, and 2022 tornado in Hines Creek.”
Bergeron will also be travelling to Iqaluit, Nunavut in the spring to provide training in Incident Command System (ICS). He said he’s been in communications with the city’s fire chief Steve McGean and they’ve organized a two-step training session, with virtual training commencing in November, and then in-person training in the spring. Bergeron says ICS is a method used by many agencies and organizations globally to manage their employees, providing them with procedures, positions, and process to plan and address problems at incidents.
“Every time I teach, I learn from others as much they learn from me,” Bergeron says. “Personally, the most satisfying part of instructing is when you can see the ‘Ah Ha!’ moment when the students get it and appreciate the hard work they’ve done to become successful.”
Bergeron says his favourite part of firefighting is making a positive difference when someone is having a terrible day.
He also adds the best part of emergency management is helping a team of professionals become self-sufficient with resources they have available to them and knowing when to call for help before they become overwhelmed.
Emily Plihal is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for South Peace News.
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