Red Cross presents at Manitoba Disaster Management Conference

Topics: Manitoba, Winnipeg, Emergency, Emergency Preparedness
Laura Ellis | February 09, 2023


The Manitoba Disaster Management Conference (MDMC) is central Canada’s largest disaster management conference, founded out of the desire to share experiences, showcase new technology and offer insight into shared problems and solutions among industry leaders.

The Canadian Red Cross has been a proud sponsor of the MDMC for many years. At this year’s conference, two Red Cross senior emergency management personnel, Gabriel Peters and Michelle Ford, were accompanied by volunteer and 2022 Order of the Red Cross recipient, Ellie Cansfield, to share their knowledge about operating reception centres during disaster responses.

When asked about what made their presentation unique, Gabriel expressed that the interactive nature of the workshop really helped participants hone in on the practical considerations for setting up an operation of a certain scale.

“It was all about reception centres 101. We covered everything from set-up to demobilization. That includes the human resources and physical resources - what is the layout [of a reception centre], what functions need to be involved in the response, what the challenges and pain points are. Then we work with our knowledge to create solutions.”

Following the presentation, the team ran a scenario-based tabletop exercise to help participants develop a common understanding, apply the knowledge they learned in the presentation and curate plans, procedures, roles and responsibilities. It featured a fictional Manitoba town of about 12,000 people facing a power outage. Maps with local landmarks, healthcare services, gas stations and potential reception centre locations were provided as tools to demonstrate how quickly resources, and the needs of those who are evacuated, can evolve over days and weeks.

While guiding the exercise, Gabriel noted that the participants level of dedication to working through the scenario was an enriching experience.

“There were a lot of smiles in the room, but there was also that look of concentration and working a problem. It was nice to see them understand more about what we do, especially in what would be considered a ‘small’ event for us and how much planning and problem solving goes into that. Every single person was engaged.”
As far as connecting with industry experts and colleagues goes, there’s no substitute for events like the MDMC.

During an emergency response, the Canadian Red Cross collaborates closely with many different partner organizations and levels of governments. Opportunities to connect in person to learn from each other and strengthen our partnerships are never taken for granted. Our team looks forward to returning to the MDMC in October 2024.

Interested in being a part of a team who supports people when they need it most? Consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer! Find an opportunity that suits you at  
Section Widgets

First Aid and CPR courses in your area

Interested in taking a Red Cross First Aid or CPR course? Find a course in your community or online.

Find a course