JIBC degree helps emergency managers keep communities safe

Syblle Sanderson BESMS Graduate (2015)Sybille Sanderson is one of the first graduates of JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency & Security Management Studies. (Photo and story by Richard Chu)


Floods, fires, and earthquakes. Bombings, hostage situations, and terrorist threats. These are just some of the scenarios that emergency management professionals have to help their communities address in today’s complex world.

JIBC has developed a number of applied, academic programs that provide the skills, theories and best practices for existing emergency management professionals, and for those looking to enter this growing field.

JIBC’s Emergency Management Division provides the full spectrum of education from one-day training courses to academic certificates, diplomas and degrees in emergency management and public safety.

Sybille Sanderson, Emergency Program Coordinator for the Cowichan Valley Regional District on Vancouver Island, is a JIBC graduate who recognized the need to be a lifelong learner to best support her community in an emergency. Since she started her career in emergency management 16 years ago, she has completed many courses offered by JIBC’s Emergency Management Division including Emergency Social Services and the Emergency Management Certificate.

In February 2015, she became one of the first graduates of JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies (BESMS) program.

“I always wanted to complete a bachelor’s degree, but I was looking for one that was actually going to be applicable to my field,” said Sybille. “When I heard JIBC was launching its degree, I said, ‘Sign me up!’”

The Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies is designed specifically to meet the safety, security and emergency management challenges professionals face. It’s the first degree of its kind in Canada and can be completed entirely online. Students gain a solid base of knowledge and skills about emergency management; disaster planning; business continuity; risk and crisis management; security and intelligence; business administration; and leadership and management.

“This proved to be a really excellent fit for me,” said Sybille. “Every course that I took had something that I could use to apply in the field, so it was really beneficial. I also learned about some best practices that I didn’t know about. When you are out there in the field, you don’t have time to do the research, but the program enables you to access relevant research quickly and understand where to find the right information when you need it.”


Sybille Sanderson, BESMS, Applied Research DaySybille Sanderson is Emergency Program Coordinator for the Cowichan Valley Regional District on Vancouver Island. She shared the highlights of her capstone applied research project she completed as part of her requirements to complete the Bachelor of Emergency & Security Management Studies degree.


As part of her requirements to complete the undergraduate program, she embarked on a significant capstone research project that explored the extent to which emergency management has been adequately integrated into local government corporate culture.

“Based on the research, we found that emergency management integration does have benefits in local government,” she said. “Each area in the organization has different responsibilities, but being informed about hazards, risks and vulnerability analysis especially in land use planning or critical infrastructure mitigation is important for the whole organization, not just for effective emergency and security management.”

The support by JIBC instructors, staff and the JIBC Library was instrumental to her in completing the program.

“The JIBC Library was very important to my success,” she said. “The staff provide students with amazing resources, including full, online access to specialized journals that you can’t get anywhere else. They were so invaluable to me in my research.”

For people looking to get into the field of emergency management, Sybille noted there are a lot of opportunities in this growing field.

“Every local government has to have an emergency manager; all government agencies and organizations have to have an emergency plan or an emergency program. So, there is a lot of opportunity out there,” she said. “Many people have transitioned into the field from other public safety professions, but employers are increasingly looking for people with an education that shows you know something about emergency management. The degree is excellent for people in the field and for those who want to get into the field, because you are going to get a lot of the practical information that you will really use, and need.”


Stay up to date about the latest course offerings you’re most interested in and subscribe to JIBC’s customizable email mailing list. For more information about JIBC’s emergency management courses and programs, visit the Emergency Management Division’s webpage or contact the Emergency Management Division at emergency@jibc.ca

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