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.”
Kevin said he plans to spend the rest of his career in the emergency management field, so the JIBC program was invaluable.
“I work extensively during the summer with other agencies operating Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) within the Incident Command System (ICS) structure. My learning from JIBC is instrumental in understanding how these concepts work.”
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
In addition to graduating recently from the program, he was also hired as a sessional instructor for JIBC’s Emergency Management Division, so far teaching the two-day information officer course in BC, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
“Emergency management is definitely a ‘growth sector’ right now, as many organizations are being mandated to improve their ability to prepare for, mitigate, prevent, respond to, and recover from emergencies. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a dynamic field with ample career opportunity.”
Along with the Emergency Management Certificate, JIBC offers a diploma and degree in emergency and security management studies. Students can take these programs on a part-time basis online, or full-time at the JIBC New Westminster campus. Applications are now being accepted for the next cohort starting September 2019.
At his recent convocation ceremony, Kevin served as student speaker on behalf of all the graduates. In his moving speech, he observed the ties that connect all JIBC graduates out in the field.
“In mid-July of 2017 I found myself in Williams Lake, a city of which 20,000 people had just been evacuated from. The only people who remained were firefighting personnel and support staff, law enforcement officers from agencies across BC and Western Canada, a Canadian Armed Forces air contingent, staff at the city and regional district Emergency Operations Centres, and a critical incident stress management team,” he said.
“Of those who remained to keep that city safe, with wildfires burning in literally every direction, almost every person left in Williams Lake at that point had likely been a student of the Justice Institute of British Columbia at some point in their careers. I think that speaks to the huge importance of the education we are leaving with today.”
For more information on the field of emergency management and related JIBC programs, visit the Emergency Management Division page.