Growing up in Santiago, Chile, Rodrigo Miyake knew he wanted to help people for a living.
He dreamed of being an army helicopter pilot to save people by evacuating them from dangerous situations. But he was uncomfortable with the combat aspect of an army career.
Instead, he became a volunteer firefighter and that inspired him to pursue a career in the field of emergency management which eventually led him to the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).
In between, he earned a Diploma in Adventure Tourism, and certifications in firefighting and industrial rope access. He worked as a flight attendant, in the sale of fire and rescue equipment, as a member of an industrial fire brigade, and performing maintenance on highrise buildings as an industrial rope access technician while also serving for 15 years as an active volunteer firefighter.
“In Chile, firefighters are 100 per cent volunteers, so I decided to go to a country where I could do it professionally. My brother lives in Toronto and he was the one who encouraged me to come.”
While looking for study programs in B.C. Rodrigo heard about JIBC and the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Disaster Management (PBDDM).
“JIBC was perfect because it matches my areas of interest. I was offered the PBDDM because it suited my plan to come to Canada and it was in line with my career path.”
I liked the program because the content always kept me engaged, the topics are current, and it broadens my perspective regarding disasters
He says sharing the experience with both Canadian students and international students from a variety of other countries was invaluable in broadening his understanding of different cultures and approaches to the field.
“I liked the program because the content always kept me engaged, the topics are current, and it broadens my perspective regarding disasters. While I was more focused on emergency response, there is much more to do in the rest of the stages of the emergency, and that motivates me to continue expanding my knowledge,” Rodrigo said.
He appreciated the fact that the instructors have previous experience in the emergency management field which helps to give a clearer picture of this line of work. And he found them to be approachable and willing to facilitate discussions, analyze different points of view and support students as needed.
Rodrigo plans to stay in Canada and has been encouraged by the fact that job requirements for emergency management positions he’s seen posted are in line with all that he learned at JIBC. His career goal is to work in urban search and rescue, as a firefighter in support of emergency management operations.
He’s already taken steps to do just that. Since graduating in the spring of 2022, Rodrigo has been working as a casual municipal and industrial firefighter in a small rural town in Alberta. He travels there to work for minimum two-week-long shifts during which he also works with that fire department’s emergency management division.
For more information on JIBC’s Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Disaster Management visit jibc.ca/pbddm.