Attendees cite realism of scenarios, exercise format, and post-session debriefing as the basis for the valuable learning environment
With more than 700 members, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Toronto has served the Greater Toronto Area’s commercial office industry for 89 years with education, leadership and professional development services. With a mandate to provide value to its constituents, BOMA Toronto set out to find an emergency management program that would be exciting and informative for its membership.
“We felt that the right program could influence member thinking by delivering information in an edutainment-type setting, rather than just having speakers in a content-rich program,” said Douglas Macy, who chairs the BOMA Toronto Emergency Management Committee. “We found Attainium through the recommendations of members who had participated in other events they conducted.
“Attainium’s Disaster Experience was an out-of-the-park home run -- 750 yards from home plate,” Macy said. “We doubled our attendee level over the previous year, and the attendance was much higher than any other course we ran during the year.
“The session was enjoyed by everyone in the room, and each attendee felt the pace and challenges in the mock disaster were realistic and entertaining,” Macy said. “It forced them to literally put themselves into their own environment and try to figure out how things would be done in their own buildings.” According to Macy, he personally polled 200 attendees by phone after the event. “It doesn’t take long for people to realize that training can be delivered in different ways, and everyone I talked to had good things to say about the Disaster Experience. As chair of the event, the feedback I got was that the program delivered ‘great value’ to attendees.
“The exercise was lifelike because of the series of events that led up to the disaster, and revealing all the things that could happen… I could see any of those things happening,” said Elena Muto, a property manager for Menkes Property Management. “The Disaster Experience made it clear that the biggest need was to practice and prompted us to test our plan more thoroughly to see how effective it would be.”
“I particularly liked the fact that, as the scenario unfolded, we had to adapt to a changing environment,” said Adolfo Silva, manager of corporate facilities for Royal & Sun Alliance. “It easily got across the point that you can’t plan 100 percent; you have to adapt as things change.
“Another valuable aspect of the exercise,” Silva said, “was the information gained on how to set up communication lines so appropriate actions can be taken as needed, and that annual testing is important to keep the plan effective.
“The Q&A/post-exercise analysis was the slam dunk of the event,” Silva said. “It engendered a lot of participation, and additional teaching and learning occurred.”
“I’ve been to so many seminars, but this was the best one,” said Muto. “I was really impressed with the whole thing… it was great!”
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