In the midst of British Columbia’s first full-scale major earthquake and tsunami response exercise, Emergency Social Services (ESS) volunteers and the B.C. branch of the Salvation Army are getting the opportunity to experience what volunteering at “The Big One” might feel like.
The Province of B.C. is proud to work with these unsung heroes who provide so much for British Columbia. These volunteers will be on hand in Port Alberni filling the roles they would in an actual disaster to help the province test response plans and get prepared in the event of a significant earthquake and tsunami.
Emergency Social Services is temporary public aid that provides up to 72-hours of essentials, such as group lodging and essential food service provided in churches, schools or stadiums, as well as emergency clothing, basic toiletries, prescriptions or absolute necessities that evacuees are often without.
The Salvation Army has 14 mobile kitchens in British Columbia to deploy in disaster situations to help feed evacuees and first responders, and four of these are currently on standby to help with the Fort McMurray fires if needed. Trained crews operate these kitchens led by qualified Incident Command Teams made up of nationally trained Salvation Army staff and volunteers. Capable personnel can also be called in from all across North America and internationally in a catastrophic event.
These public safety volunteers are essential to the well-being of our province’s citizens in emergency and disaster response. Volunteers working in emergency response and recovery make many sacrifices to help those in need, and provide British Columbians with physical, emotional and spiritual support on what are often the most challenging days of their lives.
From June 7-10, 2016, Exercise Coastal Response, the province’s first full-scale earthquake and tsunami response exercise brings together stakeholders from all levels of government, as well as Emergency Management BC staff, 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 event along coastal B.C. It tests the procedures set out in the BC Earthquake Immediate Response Plan and promotes interagency co-operation among internal and external agencies that support emergency response.
During the same timeframe, neighbouring states and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 10 are conducting an exercise called Cascadia Rising 2016. As well, Canadian federal departments involved in earthquake response will be conducting Exercise Pacific Quake and Exercise Staunch Maple.
Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness, Naomi Yamamoto –
“British Columbia’s Emergency Response Volunteers demonstrate a tireless commitment to the safety of families and communities throughout the province. They are local heroes who provide aid and support to the public during times of extreme hardship. On behalf of the province, I would like to extend a special thank you to all volunteers – and the families that support them – for placing the needs of others before your own.”
Salvation Army director of Divisional Emergency Disaster Services, John McEwan –
“The Salvation Army in B.C. has an agreement with Emergency Management BC to provide emergency services such as emergency feeding, clothing, household goods, chaplaincy, emotional support and emergency sheltering if and when needed. The Salvation Army in B.C. is pleased to provide meal services to the participants in this exercise to better prepare British Columbia for a disaster.”
Exercise Coastal Response
- Exercise Coastal Response is based on a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurring off the shore of Southwestern B.C. as a result of a rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The earthquake scenario will generate a tsunami impacting the west coast of Vancouver Island minutes after the initial shock.
- The exercise brings together some 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, non-government organizations and first responders.
- The exercise is a mix of real-time activities and simulated situations involving functions such as emergency operations, logistics, medical care, mass care, public information and operational communications.
Exercise Pacific Quake
- Exercise Pacific Quake is a Canadian federal government earthquake exercise. Federal exercise play will include the local federal coordination departments who have a presence in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, such as Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, and will extend to the Government Operations Centre in Ottawa.
Exercise Staunch Maple
- The Joint Task Force Pacific (JTFP), the lead Canadian military formation in B.C., have a range of activities planned, some of which are linked to Exercise Coastal Response activities located along the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Exercise Cascadia Rising
- Led by Northwest United States FEMA Region 10, this exercise includes municipalities and counties in the Western half of Washington and Oregon, as well as parts of Idaho.
Exercise Coastal Response: https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/exercise-coastal-response-2016
BC Earthquake Immediate Response Plan: http://ow.ly/4nrclv
Basic emergency kit supplies: http://ow.ly/4nrcp3
Household preparedness and neighbourhood preparedness guides: http://ow.ly/4nrcso
Prepare Your Pets guide: http://ow.ly/4nrcwG
Emergency Info BC, B.C.’s official channel for emergency alerts: http://ow.ly/WCDbj
Follow on Twitter: @EmergencyInfoBC (twitter.com)
and @PreparedBC (twitter.com)