As more than a hundred delegates gather in Victoria to put the final touches on the Government of B.C.’s $1.2-million earthquake exercise taking place in Port Alberni on June 7-10, 2016, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto explained the relevance of B.C.’s first ever, full-scale, earthquake exercise to emergency response throughout the entire provincial landscape.
The minister, speaking to delegates at the Final Planning Conference for Exercise Coastal Response, thanked participants for the planning that has been undertaken over the last year of preparation, and explained that the lessons learned from the exercise will be of direct relevance to community emergency plans and response measures in disasters ranging from floods and wildfires to landslides. It is the last of three conferences leading up to the exercise and will provide confirmation of the overall roll-out to the exercise plan and general participation expectations.
The exercise in June is focussed on bringing together stakeholders from all levels of government, as well as EMBC staff and agencies, First Nations, Crown Corporations, critical infrastructure owners and non-government organizations involved in provincial-level response, to model how they would collaboratively work to respond to the impacts of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami along coastal B.C. It tests the procedures set out in the BC Earthquake Immediate Response Plan and promotes interagency co-operation among both internal and external agencies that support emergency response.
The exercise will include physical deployment of the Provincial Coordination Team, as well as the City of Vancouver Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team and B.C.’s Mobile Medical Unit. Participants in table top exercises and coordinated physical drills include representatives from area First Nations and the region of Port Alberni, cross-ministry representation from the province, and participants from Public Safety Canada and the Department of National Defence. It also dovetails with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 10 exercise, Cascadia Rising, which will simulate emergency response co-ordination across the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness –
“Here in B.C., we have taken significant strides to improve our disaster readiness; it’s safe to say we now lead the nation in earthquake preparedness. That includes the creation of the province’s first Catastrophic Earthquake Immediate Response Plan and the Province’s largest investment in its first full-scale major earthquake exercise. The $1.2 million investment in Exercise Coastal Response allows us to test the BC Earthquake Immediate Response Plan, which is a framework for how the province would lead and collaborate with multiple stakeholders in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. It allows us to put theory into practice, to work alongside our partners and identify the opportunities to better our emergency response mechanisms. An earthquake exercise of this scope and scale has not happened in the history of the BC Government – but it reflects the level of commitment our Premier has made to helping shape a safer, better prepared British Columbia.”
Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure –
“The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure plays a key role in emergency response and recovery as it provides timely information on the condition of access routes. Linking all partners so they know and understand each other’s capabilities is essential to an effective response to emergencies of every nature in every community across B.C.”
- Hosted in Port Alberni, “Exercise Coastal Response 2016” is based on a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hitting off the shore of Southwestern B.C. as a result of a rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The earthquake will also generate a tsunami impacting the west coast of Vancouver Island minutes after the initial shock.
- The exercise will bring together some key stakeholder groups, such as different levels of government, various jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S., and a number of provincial ministries, First Nations, Crown corporations and first responders.
- The actual exercise will be a mix of real-time activities and simulated situations involving certain functions, such as emergency operations, logistics, medical care, mass care, public information and operational communications.
BC Earthquake Immediate Response Plan: http://bit.ly/1ZnXswM
Basic emergency kit supplies: http://bit.ly/1JTPKOy
Household preparedness and neighbourhood preparedness guides: http://bit.ly/1OHIM6P
Emergency Info BC, B.C.’s officials channel for emergency alerts: http://ow.ly/WCDbj