|6th Annual BBK Summer Academy. Photo Credit: Doug Hanchard|
|Steering group consisting of experienced staff |
from the U.S., Germany and Canada simulate
Christchurch earthquake of June 2011.
Photo: Doug Hanchard
Aaron Bull of Brandon, Manitoba heard about the Summer Academy from a former student of the program. Asked to write about his experience at the Academy, here is his account of how the Summer Academy unfolded.
I am a student at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada as an Applied Disaster and Emergency Studies Major. I have completed my undergraduate thesis which focused on Community Evacuation Planning and a field placement involving Mass Gathering Evacuation Planning. I have nearly ten years’ experience in the emergency services field starting as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic, then graduating from the Manitoba Emergency Services College and working my way up the ladder in professional positions. I’m currently employed full-time by the Department of National Defence as a Deputy Platoon Chief at Canadian Forces Base Shilo in Manitoba, Canada.
In January 2014 while checking my Facebook newsfeed I stumbled across the application brochure to the 6th Annual BBK Summer Academy. After visiting the website and looking it over I was very intrigued and contacted my classmate who had attended previously. She had nothing but positive things to say about her experience and encouraged me to apply. I was still sceptical and a little apprehensive but figured it may be a once in a life time opportunity so I began the work required to submit my application.
After waiting for a few months I got the news I was waiting for. I was invited to attend the Summer Academy at the AKNZ in Ahrweiler Germany. I had very little expectations of what to expect at the Academy. I had never been to Europe before and you could say I was a little intimidated to be traveling so far into the unknown for two weeks. Being familiar with the Canadian system I did hope I would have a chance to learn more about the German Civil Protection System. I was really looking to forward to meeting like-minded students from around the globe and was excited when I found out that 23 countries would be represented.
|Aaron (center right) learning how|
to give a disaster press conference.
Photo: Doug Hanchard
Monday morning started bright and early, little would I know the next two weeks would go by too fast. The days were filled with lectures, hands on media training, table top scenarios and team building exercises. I enjoyed how many of the guest lecturers had extended stays in order to assist with the program, mentor students and critique the table top scenarios.
|Sand Table Exercise. Photo: Doug Hanchard|
The amount of information that I was able to bring home is priceless along with the countless new friends and colleagues I made. I will utilize the contacts that I have made from the Summer Academy to help me steer my career path as I go into the future. I will also use the information I took home to inform others about areas such as risk communication, which tends to be undervalued at times. Overall the Summer Academy was an experience that will forever influence my understanding of Emergency Management and Civil Protection.