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We Are YVR: Dan Michaud, Terminal Duty Officer, team advocate and an expert en français.

We are YVR follows a day in the life of people who work at YVR but also do great things in the community. Today, we follow Dan Michaud as he shows us how terminal duty officers are the eyes and ears of the airport.

Dan Michaud in the operations centre

0400 - Early Wakeup Call

You read that correctly. Dan starts his day at 4:00 a.m. The first thing he told us was, “I’m not like Jat and Robyn. You’re not getting photos of my breakfast!” Laughing and referring to his two colleagues we profiled recently. Sorry everybody, no photos of Dan’s breakfast today.

0530 - Handover

Dan writes handover notes on a whiteboard

Dan drives into work from Langley and walks straight to the Terminal Duty Officer (TDO) office for handover with his colleague Lindsay. She tells Dan the necessary details about her night as he puts his belongings into his locker and hooks his earpiece in and connects it to his radio which keeps him in contact with the YVR Ops centre.

With past experience of working as an inflight manager, Dan has spent a lot of time in airports which makes him uniquely qualified for this job. But even still, Dan said, “I don’t think I got comfortable in this job for 2 or 3 years. There are veterans on this job who still come across things that they’ve never seen before!”

Fun fact: The total years of experience of the YVR TDO team is 152.71 years, or an average of 19 years between 8 people.

0730 - Expect the Unexpected

Every day in the operations centre, there’s a daily briefing with the many airport partners who help make the airport run smoothly. Dan learns what’s to be expected for the day in this meeting, but you can never know exactly what to expect at YVR.

“That would be the reason I’m doing this. Overall, each day presumes to be the same thing but I’m definitely here for the unexpected,” says Dan in his French accent. Oh, did we mention Dan is fluent in both French and English? It’s a great asset at YVR as we are a bilingual facility.

0950 – Up on the Roof Top

Dan sitting at his desk in the TDO office

TDO’s are part of the dispatch world at the airport. “Our training level is very high, at a level that we are ready at all times because if something goes sideways, we need to know what to do,” said Dan. In his job, Dan explains that it includes everything from incident command in an emergency to first aid to investigations.

And that training kicked in. The Ops centre radios Dan and tells him a caller was unexpectedly hearing people on the roof of the airport. Dan’s demeanour changes and he suddenly means business. Dan references the daily operations calendar to check if work was scheduled and called our maintenance and engineering teams to ensure the work was approved and it turns out that everything was indeed done by the book. All parties standing down, expect the people on the roof.

1300 - En francais, s’il vous plaî

It’s early into the afternoon now and we follow Dan through another terminal walk. On an average day, Dan takes about 20,000 steps, the equivalent of about 16 kilometres. This is the reason TDO’s are the eyes and ears of the airport. They spend time walking through the airport to ensure everything is running smoothly.

On this walkthrough, there were only a handful of flights taking place and we saw few passengers. This same time in 2019 there would be tens of thousands of passengers setting off on adventures and returning home or visiting Vancouver—plenty of them needing help from Dan. He also uses his walks to help the airport audit the signage that he sees around the airport to ensure they’re in both French and English and to let the team know if any signs need to be updated or adjusted.

Fun fact – Dan is a big French and foreign movie buff. If you’re ever looking for recommendations, Dan is your guy.

1420 - Bike Squad

Dan standing in the International Departures Terminal post-security with the bike squad

We’ve made it into the International Departures terminal, post-security, and we’re not going to lie. It’s quiet. But we happily bump into some friends of Dan’s – The Bike Squad (paramedics who service the airport on bikes). It’s the quickest way to get around and since they’re so often cycling around the airport, Dan knows them well. They asked if they could help make Dan look cool – we of course had to oblige, even though Dan is already cool without their help. Cue bike squad boomerang.

On one of Dan’s busiest shifts, he and the bike squad responded to 17 medicals. “We attend all emergencies and I would say the TDO’s are first on scene 80 per cent of the time,” said Dan.

1600 - The truth about Dan

It isn’t often the TDO team has time to sit down for a break. During the busiest times, you should ask them what’s in their pockets. It’s usually almonds or a small snack that they can eat on the go. But today, they were able to take a break. Dan sits down with Stacey, his shift partner today, and it’s during this break Stacey tells us the truth about Dan.

“Dan is our advocate,” said Stacey. “And he’s such a great team player, truly. With the whole COVID thing, he was on top of safety and everything for us. He’s awesome and we all appreciate him so much.”

1645 - The coolest job out there

Dan and his son

There’s a big flight leaving so we take one last walk through the terminal. Dan wants to ensure everybody is following our TAKECare safety rules, including social distancing and wearing a mask while in terminal. Dan is so passionate about his job; he didn’t stop talking to us about why he loves his job all day. “It’s the coolest job there is out there! Don’t tell anyone!”

We knew how much he loved his job and we wanted to know more about what he does when he isn’t at YVR. Dan is a big fan of being out in nature (good thing we have lots of that in B.C.) and travelling (his favourite country to travel to is Costa Rica). But most of all, Dan sweetly tells us that when he has days off, he and his son have a love for photography that they enjoy doing together.

1715 -  Let’s get serious 

It’s Dan’s turn to handover after a 12-hour shift. He’ll be heading home for dinner to spend time with his wife and teenage son and be back here tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. for his night shift.

As we’re walking back through the terminal toward the TDO office, Dan gets a little serious. “I had fun with you today, but the reason I wanted to do this was to get this group on the map, not just me. I prefer showing what the TDO’s have been doing especially in a pandemic and how we kept this terminal running operationally. We never stop. We are very resilient as a group to actually go through all this and you know, that’s the purpose I’m doing this.”

Stacey was right. He’s a team player through and through. And we are so lucky to have Dan on Team YVR.

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