of their personal circumstances.
While some staff had insurance
that assisted with being displaced,
others did not. There was also the
question of housing, and where
employees would go during the time
residents were not permitted back
in the city. Once senior management
was aware of the circumstances,
personal situations were able to
More of a concern was ensuring
the good mental health of each
employee. Employees regularly
were provided with mental health
information and contact numbers
should they feel overwhelmed by
the situation. The airport also offers
employees complimentary access to
a confidential employee assistance
program (EAP). Staff were
encouraged to make use of the EAP
and were reminded that there is no
stigma in seeking help following
such a traumatic incident.
To keep employees engaged, a
special newsletter was created
to assist everyone in finding
normalcy during the evacuation.
This provided suggestions of things
to do in a new city, updates to the
status of the airport, and more. It
was a positive tool to be able to
stay connected to employees in a
time when everyone was spread
across the country. When the
airport re-opened, and employees
could return to work, fewer than a
handful of staff chose not to return
to Fort McMurray, indicating our
success in supporting our people
during this time.
While the fire was certainly the
most challenging emergency that
YMM has faced to date, it provided
many opportunities for hands-on
learning across all departments. The
result is a stronger team, confident
in our abilities to handle any crisis
that comes our way.
Jillian Philipp is customer experience and
communications coordinator, Fort McMurray
Airport Authority. She may be reached at
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