John M. Saunders, Partners in Preparedness

John Saunders has been the Canadian Red Cross Ontario Director of Disaster Management & International Response for the past four years. As the Provincial Director, John oversees disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, relief and recovery efforts within the province of Ontario. He is tasked to lead program development and is responsible for the overall management of these areas.

John gained a wealth of experience in Emergency Medicine and Emergency Management during his years as a paramedic in Massachusetts and training with the US Coast Guard’s Search & Rescue team.

Prior to joining the Red Cross, John was a private consultant in Toronto with a primary focus on business continuity planning, Health & Safety and corporate emergency plan development.

John’s consulting business allowed him to serve as a disaster response volunteer for close to five years prior to selling his business to join the Red Cross as a staff member. In his work with the Red Cross and with other organizations, he has been involved in the response to 9/11, SARS, several American Hurricanes, the Peterborough flood, multiple evacuations of First Nation Communities and was provincial lead in the coordination of the receiving of Canadians fleeing from the conflict in Lebanon/Israel (summer of 2006). He was also the Red Cross EOC Manager during the initial response to the 2004 Tsunami.

John has been actively engaged in the continuing development of the Emergency Management profession, working with the International Association of Emergency Managers as well as being a subject matter expert on the Advisory Committee for the development of the CSA Emergency Management Standard Z1600.

During his tenure as Provincial Director, he has focused on internal capacity building and the strengthening of key provincial relationships. John has also been a strong advocate and leader for the consideration of those with special needs and vulnerable populations in respect to emergency planning and response.

W. A. (Bill) Blackborow, Suzanne Bernier, CEM, CBCP, “Are You Truly Ready”?

W.A. (Bill) Blackborow is the President and CEO, Municipal Health and Safety Association. Bill’s career includes progressive Leadership roles in Operations, Human Resources and Health and Safety. These roles have been held in both National and International Organizations that span Manufacturing, the Industrial Service Sector and Health Care (British Columbia). In parallel with his career, Bill progressed through the volunteer structure of the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) and is a past member and Chair of the IAPA Board of Directors. Along with his current role as President and CEO, Municipal Health and Safety Association, Bill is an executive member of the Ontario Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO).

OHSCO is comprised of leadership personnel from the WSIB, Ministry of Labour, the Health and Safety Associations and the Institute for Work and Health. Bill is a recognized speaker has presented at Conferences across Canada, throughout the United States and in Hong Kong China. Bill has been married to Diane for thirty seven years, and they continue to enjoy their family life with their four children.

In Mr. Blackborow’s presentation, he will cover many of the threats we face each day, both natural and man made. He will discuss the various scenarios we know about but also add a different twist by addressing the safety needs of the responders. During Mr. Blackborow’s introduction, he will also cover the Province’s Prevention System update with respect to focus areas from the WSIB, Ministry of Labour and the Health and Safety Associations.


Suzanne Bernier, CEM, CBCP
Suzanne has recently returned from New York City, where she was commissioned by the United Nations Headquarters to develop and run the first joint pandemic tabletop exercise for all New York-based UN organizations.

In her normal role as Emergency Management Program Coordinator for Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, she developed and continues to lead the organization’s Business Continuity, Emergency Management and Pandemic plans and programs.

Suzanne has been internationally recognized for her work in helping organizations plan for a possible pandemic, and has been a guest speaker on pandemic planning at conferences across Canada, the US and Europe.

Since 2007, Suzanne has been a volunteer with the “Continuity Cares” rebuilding initiative in New Orleans, returning annually to help rebuild local fire halls and residential homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Suzanne has worked in the field of emergency management for over 12 years, having worked for Emergency Management Ontario, Ontario Power Generation and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and is a member of Canada’s National Council on Emergency Management. She is also one of a select few Canadians to receive dual designation as Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) through the International association of Emergency Managers, and Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) through Disaster Recovery Institute International.

In 1997, Suzanne became Ontario’s first female Emergency Management Field Officer for Emergency Management Ontario (EMO). While at EMO, she helped design, control, evaluate and participated in numerous international, federal, provincial and municipal disaster exercises. She also responded to real emergencies across the province, where she participated as a member of the Control Group at various federal, provincial and municipal Emergency Operations Centres. In recognition of her response work during the 1998 Ice Storm in Eastern Ontario, Suzanne received the Amethyst Award for Outstanding Achievement on behalf of the Government of Ontario.

Ralph Wheeler, Program Partnerships

Ralph Wheeler is the current Director of the Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch (AFFMB). Since joining the OPS in 1978, Ralph has held a variety of leadership positions including Manager of Boreal Science and Operations Manager, Northwest Region, and became AFFMB Director in January 2007. Ralph’s extensive career with MNR includes experience in the areas of environmental assessment, enforcement, compliance, human resources, asset management, finance and administration, research, science and transfer services. He is a graduate of Sir Sandford Fleming College.

As Director for AFFM, Ralph is responsible for the development and delivery of Ministry of Natural Resources fire management, aviation services and emergency management program through a decentralized infrastructure across northern and south/central Ontario.

Ralph will provide a thought provoking keynote address that focuses on the Ministry of Natural Resources Emergency Management Program.

Captain Al Haynes, The Story of Flight 232

Captain Al Haynes was born in Paris, Texas and raised in Dallas. He attended Texas A&M College before joining the Naval Aviation Cadet Training program in 1952. He was released from the service in 1956 after serving as a Marine Aviator. He joined United Airlines that year as a flight engineer and served in that capacity until his promotion to first officer in 1963. He flew the DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, Boeing 727, and DC-10. Al was promoted to captain in 1985 and flew the Boeing 727 and DC-10 up to his retirement in August 1991, accumulating over 27,000 hours of flight time. Al has been a volunteer umpire for Little League Baseball for the past 36 years and a stadium announcer for high school football for the past 30 years.

The Story of Flight 232
Quote: “That 184 people survived the crash landing of United 232 can be attributed to five main factors: Luck, Communications, Preparation, Execution, and Cooperation.”

Captain Al Haynes is one of the most in-demand speakers today. He has spoken to over a thousand audiences. Now retired from the airlines, his travel itinerary for speaking is possibly more grueling than that of an airline pilot.