Tag Archives: emergency management

Emergency Management Division Justice Institute of British Columbia School of Public Safety

JIBC education helps grad pursue a career in emergency management

Kevin Skrepnek, the chief fire information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, recently completed a Certificate in Emergency Management at JIBC to get a better understanding of the industry for which he’s now a spokesperson. 


For several years now, Kevin Skrepnek has been the face of the BC Wildfire Service during the summer wildfire season. As chief fire information officer, he serves as the spokesperson for the service ensuring the public receives critical safety information when they need it most, when forest fires start bearing down on homes and people are forced to evacuate.

Armed with a diploma in public relations from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Kevin had the background for his particular line of work. But being new to the world of emergency management, he wanted to get a better understanding of the industry he was now a visible part of.

When Kevin decided to go back to school for a Certificate in Emergency Management, he chose the program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).

“I found the courses refreshingly practical, and very hands on. Instructors came with significant real-world experience, which was a huge asset as a learner,” he said. “The program is very flexible, which is great for working professionals looking to expand their skillset.”

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Emergency Management Division Justice Institute of British Columbia School of Public Safety

JIBC degree helps grad find purpose and realize passion to keep communities safe

Melodie Hutmacher is now working in her dream job in emergency management after learning of the growing field and completing JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies program.


A few years ago, Melodie Hutmacher was searching for a career where she could make a difference. She found it at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).

Today, Melodie is working in her dream job in emergency management helping to keep communities safe. As the Regional Emergency Systems Coordinator for the Regional Emergency Management Partnership, her role is to coordinate projects on Vancouver Island that strengthen and enhance emergency plans in the Capital Regional District.

It’s a role filled with purpose: to help communities prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from all sorts of emergencies and disasters. JIBC’s Bachelor of Emergency and Security Management Studies is Canada’s first degree of its kind in this growing field that Melodie didn’t even know existed prior to visiting JIBC’s website.

“Upon reading the description for the degree, I instantly knew I had found the path I wanted to take. It was as if the write-up was speaking directly to me: this field was everything I was looking for all my adult life. I was so excited, I filled in my application that same day.”

Through the program, she developed “a great sense of being a part of something bigger. I knew that what I learned at JIBC would take me into a career that I love. And it did. The instructors and staff are knowledgeable, helpful, and engaged. They made themselves available to provide insight and perspectives on their experiences and to answer questions. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from other students from all over the world.”

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Emergency Management Division Justice Institute of British Columbia School of Public Safety

Japanese student takes JIBC lessons home to Asia

Hitoshi Igarashi recently completed course work in New Westminster as part of JIBC’s Emergency Management Certificate program. He hopes to adopt elements of the North American system of disaster response in Japan and other countries that he works with through the Community Emergency Management Institute of Japan. (Story and photo by Wanda Chow)


Hitoshi Igarashi is no stranger to natural disasters. From the 2011 Fukushima incident and the Tohoku tsunami that followed in Japan to Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines and numerous disasters in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, he’s seen it all.

“I’m like a disaster chaser,” Hitoshi, 51, joked while completing course work in New Westminster as part of the Emergency Management Certificate program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).

With a master’s degree from the University of Oregon and an undergraduate degree from Eastern Washington University, Hitoshi was looking for a short program to expand his knowledge and skills and learn how emergency management is done in Canada, which has a similar government structure to that in Japan.

He chose JIBC’s program in particular because he wanted to learn from experienced instructors who were well versed in preparing for, and responding to, the types of natural disasters faced in British Columbia. This includes earthquakes and forest fires, which are similar to those of the west coast of the United States and in Japan.

The fact that most of JIBC’s program is conducted online meant he could learn at his own pace, as long as he was meeting deadlines, while still being able to communicate with instructors, which was a particular benefit when he was working in Indonesia. All that remained was one week of intensive coursework at JIBC in person on campus.

“It’s very flexible for working professionals and international travelers.”

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Emergency Management Division Justice Institute of British Columbia School of Public Safety

Be the one keeping communities safe

August 11, 2016 - Vancouver, BC - Photos for JIBC. Photos by Jimmy JeongTara Stroup oversees the emergency program for the City of Port Coquitlam. Thanks to her training in emergency management at JIBC, she helps ensure the city is prepared in case of a disaster.
(Story by Wanda Chow / Photo by Jimmy Jeong)


A major fire was burning at a strip mall in the downtown area of Port Coquitlam. Senior city staff were arriving to take their posts at the city’s emergency operations centre. Tara Stroup, emergency program officer for the City of Port Coquitlam, was there, ready and able to guide them thanks to her training at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).

“The courses at JIBC have helped me to feel confident in my role of leading senior staff in an activation activity,” she said. “They came in not really knowing what to do and I was able to stay calm and assertive and guide them in the different aspects of what they needed to do in order to fulfill that process.”

Tara has worked a total of 15 years in the emergency management field with three different municipalities. She currently manages Port Coquitlam’s city emergency program, including ensuring staff and volunteers are trained, and conducting annual exercises so they’ll all be ready when disaster hits.

It was a role she first inherited as an administrator in a local fire department and which she came to enjoy. As a mother of four, well versed in the art of planning, coordinating and juggling activities and schedules, it was a natural segue into the field.

“Emergency management is an extremely dynamic field with so much work, it’s incredible.”

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Emergency Management Division School of Public Safety

Going the distance in emergency management training

Tom Lewis, 2013 JIBC Instructor of the Year

Tom Lewis a 30-year veteran of the Surrey Fire Department and one of JIBC’s Instructors of the Year

JIBC is home base for many of the most-experienced and most-engaging instructors in public safety. The Institute’s corps of instructors include paramedics, police officers, firefighters, sheriffs, and counsellors with decades of experience in the field.

Among them is Tom Lewis, a 30-year veteran of the fire department of the City of Surrey, one of the largest cities in the Metro Vancouver region.

Tom’s energy is undeniable. His enthusiasm, intensity, and passion for excellence have made him an internationally respected mentor in the field of Emergency Management. read more »