First of all, you don’t have a lot of time. You need to get information out quickly to a lot of people, so you’re not going to phone around to every business, every school and every house; that’s impossible,” he says. “We knew if we got into radio stations and TV stations and we got it on Facebook and Twitter, we would get most of the people, if not 95 per cent.” All media releases were issued through social media. In the evenings, Allen regularly appeared in 30-second videos posted to Twitter to provide updates. “Any type of project you do, communication is always key, but in this one, it was obviously vital,” he says. “I don’t know of any better way we could have done it.” Allen’s ability to stay level-headed under pressure was highly regarded throughout the evacuation. He credits his being a firefighter for 29 years as keeping him calm in stressful situations. One of the things he is the most proud of is how he and his leadership team treated the workers (up to 100 individuals) in the Regional Emergency Operations Centre throughout the evacuation. “We never, ever raised our voice; we never shouted at anybody; we never lost it, as they say, under pretty stressful conditions. I am really proud of that.” Although he has witnessed countless stressful situations as a firefighter, this was the largest event Allen had ever seen and there were some emotional moments.
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