A $1-million investment will support British Columbia’s first-ever provincially led, full-scale earthquake response exercise that will test elements of the new B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan (IRP).
Emergency Management B.C. (EMBC) is in the process of developing Exercise Coastal Response, a full-scale major earthquake and tsunami response exercise which will take place in the Port Alberni region from June 7-10, 2016.
This exercise will also involve the real-time deployment of the Provincial Coordination Team (PCT), a cross-government group that can be activated to bring support to a local authority in an emergency, and the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) team from Vancouver.
With this investment, B.C. will cover deployment costs for the HUSAR team, as well as the costs of staffing and carrying out the exercise. This will be the first provincial earthquake exercise to test tsunami response and full-scale HUSAR deployment in Port Alberni, and the first full-scale HUSAR training exercise that the Vancouver team has performed with EMBC.
In addition to HUSAR and EMBC, multiple levels of government, various jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S., and a number of provincial ministries, First Nations, Crown corporations, first responders and internal and external agencies will all be invited to participate. With significant partner involvement expected, Coastal Response will enhance provincial emergency readiness and response capabilities for a catastrophic earthquake.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
“Planning and exercising are vital to a successful emergency management program, both at the provincial level, and in your home. We all have heard about the potential for a catastrophic earthquake to hit our region - most recently in a New Yorker article - so we need to make sure we are prepared. Simply, we are all in it together. By funding the first ever provincially led major earthquake exercise in B.C., we will be further along towards our goal of a safer province for us all.”
City of Vancouver fire chief John McKearney -
“The City of Vancouver Fire Rescue Service has worked with the Province for several years to improve our combined response capabilities to a major earthquake. This major exercise in Port Alberni will greatly assist all stakeholders, including first responders, to understand where our gaps in response and recovery may be.
“Over the next year, the lead up to this exercise will provide the opportunity for emergency partners to work closely together to build out the exercise, which will create tremendous learning and create and strengthen the working relationships that are so important when major emergency events occur.”
Port Alberni fire chief Tim Pley -
“All communities should be prepared to respond to and recover from the types of large-scale emergencies that are likely to occur in their areas. In the Alberni Valley, we know that we are at risk of a catastrophic Cascadia subduction zone earthquake followed immediately by a devastating tsunami. History tells us that. Municipal, regional and First Nations governments in the Alberni Valley have taken a collaborative approach to preparing our community for this eventuality. We need to test our preparedness. We could not undertake a large-scale exercise of our emergency plan without the Province of B.C.’s support and ongoing commitment to public safety.”
- The exercise directly addresses recommendations from the 2014 Auditor General’s report on earthquake preparedness in B.C.
- Port Alberni was selected as the location for the exercise due to its seismic history. Specifically, on March 27, 1964, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck Alaska, triggering a tsunami that reached Port Alberni just after midnight on March 28, causing flooding and devastation including damage to 300 homes and buildings.
- The Alberni valley emergency plan and emergency operations centre will be activated during the exercise, and this will include a test of the tsunami sirens and first response procedures.
- Once deployed, HUSAR will be involved in tasks related to searches and medical and structural assessments. HUSAR teams can locate trapped people in collapsed structures, move debris, and medically treat and transfer victims.
- This exercise will also test certain aspects of B.C.’s provincial Immediate Response Plan (IRP), which is in the final stages of development.
B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan: http://www.embc.gov.bc.ca/em/hazard_plans/hazard_plans.html
For details on how British Columbians can prepare for emergencies, including planning resources and guides, visit PreparedBC: http://www.gov.bc.ca/PreparedBC
To access the Earthquake and Tsunami Smart Manual: http://bit.ly/1E0ZFDa
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice