By Glen Greenhill
Emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time, and the severity of any given situation may vary widely.
An emergency may be the result of severe weather, infectious diseases, industrial accidents, spills, or intentional acts.
When an emergency occurs, it can threaten public health and safety, the environment, the economy, critical infrastructure such as transportation and telecommunications.
The very nature of an emergency is that it is unpredictable and can change in scope and impact without warning, so advance planning is crucial.
This month, the BC Ambulance Service, operated by BCEHS, joined multiple partners in the first-ever provincially-led, full-scale earthquake and tsunami response exercise. The “Exercise Coastal Response” was held in the Port Alberni and Clayoquot region from June 7-10 and tested the elements of the new B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan (IRP).
This exercise was led by Emergency Preparedness, Response & Recovery (EMBC) and included Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC), first responders from across the province and many volunteers.
Approximately 50 BCEHS employees were involved in this exercise both on the ground in Port Alberni, at the Vancouver Island District Operations Centre (DOC) in Parksville and at the dispatch centre in Langford, which served as the BCEHS Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) for the simulation.
In Port Alberni, our paramedics triaged, treated and transported about 50 volunteer patients under various circumstances that could occur following an earthquake. We also worked with responders from our partner agencies to ensure the safety of the public and each other.
The purpose of this joint exercise is to learn from our provincial partners and assess any gaps in our response and recovery to serve British Columbians in an emergency.
Is your family prepared in case of an emergency? To learn more about how you can better equip your family go to: www.getprepared.gc.ca. Your feedback is appreciated. Glen.Greenhill@bcehs.ca.
Glen Greenhill is the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) District Manager for the Comox-Strathcona area.