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Victoria paramedic wins academic honour

Victoria paramedic Brooks Hogya was surprised when he found out he had won the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal for his Disaster and Emergency Management Master’s degree thesis project.
Victoria paramedic Brooks Hogya and family
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"I was really taken aback," said Hogya, who was nominated for the prestigious honour by his supervisor. "I didn't think anyone would be interested in my weird ideas."

Hogya's "weird idea" was to collect data on people's understanding of disaster risk reduction and community resiliency by having them play a board game.

"It's basically a training exercise in board game form," he said. "I wanted to find a way to help people understand the complex, isoteric ideas of disaster resiliency theory and how they interact with each other."

Anyone can play the game including local government employees, but it was specifically designed to help local governments uncover where gaps in their emergency management plans lie and help them build more resilient communities.

Hogya noted that disasters are becoming more and more costly.

"Generally, people's personal ability to care for themselves has decreased dramatically," he said. "There's this underlying assumption that your government will take care of you in a disaster or a catastrophe, but for that to happen, there needs to be greater collaboration between health care and public safety partners at the local, regional and provincial level."

Hogya's front line experience working as a part-time paramedic in Victoria for the last 10 years has influenced his interest in emergency management and disaster resiliency.

"It works both ways," he said. "My experience working as a paramedic influences my academic studies and my academic studies influence my paramedic work."

Between paramedic shifts and his studies, Hogya is also an entrepreneur; he is working on a second emergency response board game for the government of Alberta. And then Hogya is heading back to school. He was recently accepted into the Disaster and Emergency Management PhD program at Royal Roads University.
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