From teachers to techies, police to principals, Hour-Zero is a composition of knowledgeable and experienced individuals who are ardent about making the world a safer place.

Our Team

Meet some of the Hour-Zero team.

Technical Specialist – Dennis Balogh

Dennis is our man behind the maps. While most people may not relish the thought of spending hours meticulously plotting every detail of a school on a map, you’ll be glad to know there are people like Dennis who actually enjoy the task and are great at their jobs.

He is a Facilities Specialist with Hour-Zero, responsible for ensuring all the important details of school buildings, sites and their communities are documented on emergency maps. Given the nature of the task, Dennis’ background as a research associate well-prepared him for handling the millions of pieces of data he processes each year.

Dennis has a BA in International Studies and a Masters degree in Global Environmental Policy. He has served on the Disaster Management Team for his local chapter of the Red Cross for the past 10 years, and has earned several certificates in Disaster Management including ICS certification.

In his downtime he participates in road and trail running events. Many Hour-Zero clients may recognize Dennis as the looming radio voice who always seems to be delivering bad news during tabletop exercises.

Associate – Nick Bell

Nick is a highly decorated expert in crisis management, emergency management, and active threat planning whose time on the front lines includes experience as a law enforcement officer and a wildland firefighter.

In recognition of his commitment and dedication, Nick is the honored recipient of the Medal of Bravery, Medal of Meritorious Service, and Medal of Valour. He served as an instructor at the police academy in metro Vancouver and has taught school-based risk management and threat preparation to hundreds of students, teachers, administrators, and police officers.

He has extensive security experience for high-profile events, including such events as the Olympics, Pan Am Games, and major concerts. He, most recently, held the position of Police Supervisor for the Community Policing Section, overseeing community policing initiatives including the school resources officer program (SRO).

Nick’s experience is backed by a Master of Law Degree in International Justice, along with a Masters Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management. In addition, he holds certificates in numerous speciality areas, amongst those - certifications in multiple risk assessment processes (including WAVR/ERASE), ICS, and crisis intervention and de-escalation.

Translator & Technical Specialist – Mireille Smith

After studying politics, economics, and environment at universities in Canada, Finland, Sweden, and Chile, Mireille realized she had inadvertently been studying another unrelated field: linguistics. When Mireille joined the Hour-Zero team in 2009 she already had completed a Masters Degree and had a wealth of experience proofreading, editing, interpreting, and translating in French, English, and Spanish for a variety of clients to bring to the table.

In addition to her multi-language skill set, Mireille’s also brings experience in emergency response planning, evacuation procedures for extreme situations, and occupational health and safety protocols. Her commitment to quality has been recognized internationally, and is the receipt of a AEMQ e3 Plus award for social and environmental responsibility.

When not playing with words, saving the environment or traveling, Mireille enjoys the outdoors and can frequently be found exploring hiking trails with her children and husband.

Associate – Joanne Sheardown

Joanne is well-known for her wealth of ICS expertise and chairs the ICS/IMS Canada committee assisting in its implementation across Canada.

She has held numerous senior positions in Emergency Management, most recently serving as the Director of Emergency Services for the City of Edmonton. She has been involved in emergency incidents and events across North America.

She is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), a credentialed ICS instructor and holds a BA in Criminology and a Masters degree in Emergency Management.

She has extensive operational and teaching experience in numerous disciplines ranging from emergency operations for educational institutions to hurricane relief to pandemic planning for the healthcare sector.

She has taught ICS at all levels, emergency operations center practices, basic emergency management and disaster social services courses to hundreds of educators, government employees and first responders. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops, and a highly effective exercise facilitator.

In 2009 Joanne was awarded an Executive Citation from the International Association of Emergency Managers. In 2010, she received the Bronze Award of the Premier’s Award of Excellence.

Student Engagement Specialist – Laura Duggan

Laura is the creative lead behind the Andy and Ella series. Her background as an early childhood educator, combined with her training as a 3D visual artist, affords her a unique perspective into how to effectively present emergency preparedness to young children.

Her love of comics provides the perfect medium to present Andy and Ella's adventures to this young audience. And her amazing talents as a digital artist allow her to create those comics and games in format designed to intrigue and challenge the minds of today's learners.

Laura is a huge Star Wars® fan and can often be found competing at electronic games development events.

Writer - Communications Specialist – Andrea Phare

Andrea is the wizard of words and editor working behind the scenes to create The Command Post eNewsletter, Hour Zero blog, and other online content. She is a seasoned communications professional whose experience includes nearly 15 years in the field of education.

Stringing together sentences and crafting content that is meaningful and relevant to the audience is not only a job for Andrea—it’s a passion. Drawing on her experience and expertise as a previous Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) team member, social media savvy, and her perspective as a parent of two school-aged children places her in a unique position to develop online content for Hour-Zero.

Andrea is a graduate of Grant MacEwan University (Public Relations). Her hectic life as a writer and mom is balanced with time spent as a yoga instructor.

Writer - Editor – Emily Hector

Emily Hector is a writer and editor who uses her mighty pen to promote school safety. Over her years with Hour-Zero, she has been part of the team that has crafted emergency communications templates and served as an editor for protocol documentation. She has also played a vital role in the creation of the Hour-Zero Adventures of Andy and Ella children’s series and accompanying curriculum guides for educators.

Emily’s writing talents are augmented by her experience with the BC Ministry of Health's Emergency Management Unit, where she assisted in the development of provincial emergency plans and collaborated with stakeholders at all levels of government; she has also worked as a teaching assistant for several courses at Canadian universities.

Emily holds a B.A. Honours and Master’s degree in English. When not grappling with the intricacies of commas, clauses, and conjunctions, you’ll find her reading novels, hiking trails, or planning an upcoming trip to discover more of the globe.

Associate – Doug Bryson

When you meet Doug, you’ll know right away that you are in good hands. His expert credentials and wealth of first-hand experience contribute to him being a highly valued member of the Hour-Zero team. He has extensive training in the areas of responding to and preventing school violence, emergency management and terrorism-related issues.

While a police officer in Spartanburg County, SC, Doug implemented the countywide school resource officer program along with the Crime Prevention Unit which, a program involving 26 officers and 7 school districts.

As primary liaison between schools, the Sheriff, and county administration he developed and delivered school-safety training to officers and district personnel, and performed school safety assessments.

Doug has several years of experience as the coordinator of a county emergency management department, and through this assignment has been involved in several large-scale incident, including a Presidentially-declared disaster.

He is an instructor for the FEMA EOC Management/Operations course, chair of the South Carolina Emergency Management certification committee; and a member of the state Emergency Management legislative committee.

Doug is a graduate of Western Carolina University, BS in Emergency and Disaster Management; Suma Cum Laude.

Associate – Marzia Michielli

Former colleagues adeptly dubbed Marzia "Queen of Emergency Preparedness" for her work in championing their Board's emergency program.

Marzia's background touches all aspects of school operations, ranging from classroom teacher to Vice Principal to Technology Center Director to Regional Director with the English Montreal School Board. Her broad experience allows her to fully understand the challenges schools face and enables her to guide them to successful implementations of their emergency programs.

Among her many career achievements, Mariza spearheaded the emergency preparedness program, including an extensive training component, for all schools and centers at the English Montreal School Board.

Marzia is a recipient of the YMCA Women of Distinction Award and obtained her Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education from McGill University. She speaks five languages (English, French, Italian, Arabic, Spanish) and can be found in her off time either oil painting, attending yoga or participating in kick boxing.

Advisor – Darren Eastcott

Ask Darren to name his number one career passion: he’ll tell you ‘school safety’ - and it shows.

Darren is a former Superintendent of Police Services and the founder of the Alberta Association of School Resource Officers. During his illustrious policing career Darren served in numerous capacities, including head of the School Resource Officer Unit, Youth Services Section. He was also instrumental in development of the renowned Zebra Child Protection Center, where he managed a team of 40 professionals in the area of child maltreatment investigations.

He has extensive experience and training in School Crisis Management, Major Events Security, Rapid Deployment and the management of Crises Occurrences. He is a former member of the Edmonton Police Services Emergency Disaster Team and a recipient of the Alberta Solicitor General's Crime Prevention Award – Police Recipient.

Given his experience and reputation, it will come as no surprise that Darren is a highly sought after speaker with school districts and child-service agencies throughout North America. Hour-Zero is honoured to have him as an advisor to our organization.

Advisor – Vern Elliot

Deputy Chief Vern Elliot is a professional firefighter and paramedic, who has put his life on the line to save others for more than 20 years.

In addition to his extensive credentials and experience as a first responder, he holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts Degree in Emergency Services and has served as an Emergency Coordinator and Emergency Officer in a high risk industry.

Vern has been involved in all levels and aspects of emergency management, from front line response to training staff to policy development and implementation. His in-depth knowledge and understanding of provincial, national and international standards and guidelines such as NFPA, OH&S, Safety Codes and OSHA enables him to provide solid advice for schools dealing with these requirements.

As a consummate professional his work has naturally impacted his personal life; where his "hobbies" have seen him compete at the Firefighter Games - including the Toughest Firefighter Alive challenge.

Vern's experience, education and enthusiasm make him a welcomed and valued advisor to Hour-Zero.

Consultant – Dr. David Peet

Educational groups around the globe recognize Dr. Peet's expertise in the field of crisis intervention for school-aged children.

Dr. Peet has been involved in the fields of education, rehabilitation and heath in various capacities since 1972, including classroom teacher, school administrator, district coordinator of special services and associate superintendent of schools. He is a registered psychologist, and has worked with teachers, administrators and community health professional in countries around the world.

He is the author of numerous works and a well-known lecturer. His work emphasizes the translation of psychological, instructional and development theory to invention and practice – specifically on the topics of post-disaster psychosocial support and development of integrated support services for children. More recently, he was part of the consulting and teaching recovery team to serve in Sri Lanka post-tsunami.

Technical Writer – Tom Robinson

IT Development Team