EDITORIAL: Emergency situations spark anger

This week has been a busy one for emergency preparedness, both Island-wide and locally.

Here in the Comox Valley, most of us woke up Tuesday morning to discover that there had been a tsunami warning issued for the west side of Vancouver Island during the night, due to a large earthquake in Alaska.

By the time the majority of Valley residents heard about it, the warning had already ended.

Then, on Thursday morning, another emergency alert – this one much closer to home, and affecting our youth.

A security threat to the well-being of students and staff at Mark Isfeld Secondary led to a shut-down of all three School District 71 high schools, and a “hold and secure” order for all the elementary schools.

In both instances, the immediate reaction from many people was fear. Then anger.

The anger came after people processed the information, and began questioning the available information, or lack thereof, regarding the situations.

In the case of the tsunami, many people on this side of the island were awakened by text messages from friends and family abroad, who are unfamiliar with the geography of Vancouver Island, and unaware that, geographically, the Comox Valley is at an extremely low risk of ever being hit by such a wave. That fact was of little comfort to many in our community, who were upset at the lack of any local advance warning system kicking in.

The anger Thursday stemmed from the handling of the security threat alert. Most complaints we received were from parents of elementary school-aged students who were not informed of the hold and secure order – or who found out about it through social media sources prior to hearing from school authorities.

The important thing to understand is that the protocol the school district followed is one designed with the children’s safety as the top priority. While the communication with parents was apparently not perfect, the children were safe, and to that degree SD71 should be applauded for its efforts in what was a first-of-its-kind situation.

Fortunately, there were no injuries or casualties from either incident last week.

But there are some important lessons to be taken away from both situations.

Thanks to the tools at our disposal in this technologically advanced era, the speed at which emergency preparedness groups, government agencies and the media receive, process and deliver information has improved dramatically.

Understandably, along with these vast improvements comes greater expectations. All those involved can learn from any mistakes made in the attempt to circulate the necessary information in the most efficient manner possible, during these two critical incidents.

We must be better.

–Terry Farrell

Just Posted

Comox Valley’s living wage sees four per cent increase from 2017 – report

Advocacy groups say the Valley’s inflation rate was nearly double the provincial average

Peru authorities order arrest of two suspects in Vancouver Island man’s killing

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the… Continue reading

UPDATED: Comox Valley man killed in Peru

A Canadian man killed in Peru has been identified by the Peruvian… Continue reading

Big Read: locked out of the woods

Vancouver Islanders struggle to balance back country public access with private land protection

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

B.C.’s living wage increase curbed due to MSP cuts, child care subsidy: report

Living wage varies between $16.51 in north central B.C. to $20.91 in Metro Vancouver

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

B.C. Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

B.C. bill aims to keep Indigenous kids in communities, out of care

Changes to Child, Family and Community Service Act could connect MCFD, Indigenous communities

Most Read