10 Qs with KELLYANN MELOCHE
Emergency Management Specialist, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
It was a summer student job and a break from my Health Sciences studies.
It was an article in Scientific American about the burnout rate of Emergency Managers. Our field is very rarely recognized by the public as an "emergency service" so it was a surprise to read it. The pandemic brought so much stress to our positions due to political interference, it was frustrating to many EMs. The article mentions more EMs are leaving the field because of it. It inspired me because of the recognition. I was happy I wasn't alone in feeling this way.
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
The development of Shelter in Place training. Many communities evacuate during an emergency, this training provides another option of safely sheltering where they're comfortable. It's a 3-day course with the input of Forestry, Public Safety, and other government departments.
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
Face-to-face conversations or just simply picking up the phone and talking with people. Asking them questions, giving advice. It's about trust. Once they trust you, they'll respect you when a disaster strikes.
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE A ROADBLOCK FOR WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
When I started in 1993, we weren't taken seriously. Much of my classes/training was with 98% males. Questions were directed to males, their answers were the best ones, etc. It was difficult. I had to prove myself MORE than they did.
8. WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW?
I play the drums (not good) to release stress. It's a fun way for me to just "bang the drum" and hear the beat, feel the bass and release some tension.
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Indigenous communities are deciding for themselves the direction they want in response to an emergency. It's moving towards self-determination. They're not waiting for government officials to tell them, “O.k., you can evacuate" or "o.k., you can order a water bomber" It's a movement more and more communities are realizing and asserting.
Tough question...I'd say, your children are only young once. Make a schedule of work time and stick to it. We are so dedicated to our jobs, knowing people need our care, that we forget about those moments with family. The plan/training/project can wait until tomorrow. Go home, have a hot dinner with family, hang out in the back yard and just let go.
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE GETTING THEIR START IN THE FIELD?
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
"Kellyann, it's o.k. if you don't have the answer." It allowed me the buffer room I needed to build my confidence. At first, I thought I needed to know all the answers. I had to provide solutions, etc. That advice allowed me to say, "o.k., I'm learning something new today and I'll get back to you tomorrow."
I suspect we all heard this one. "The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time." Meaning, CEM is a huge undertaking. It's not just one project. It's evolving and needs constant upkeep. Many departments are involved, but if you take one step at a time, you'll get to a comfort level of managing multiple tasks at a time. You truly need to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.