The Regional District has an Emergency Preparedness Plan in place for rural areas within the Regional District. The Plan, based on the BC Emergency Response Management System (BCERMS) model, provides the Regional District with the following:
- operational guidelines for coordinating response to incidents;
- outlines the Regional District's authority and responsibility to respond to emergencies and disasters;
- communicates the Regional District's policies and procedures to outside organizations;
- guides the ongoing efforts of the Regional District to train personnel and volunteers in emergency management and in exercising the plan; and,
- seeks to coordinate the Regional District's Emergency Preparedness Plan with member municipalities.
The Emergency Plan can be activated when an emergency or disaster requires a coordinated response from a number of agencies. Examples of an emergency include floods, forest fires, train derailments, hazmat spills, severe weather, etc. The Plan does not guarantee that the effects of an emergency or disasters will be alleviated; however, it does assist in providing a coordinated approach to emergency response.
Emergency Preparedness Program
The Emergency Preparedness Program was established by the Regional District in 2001 to conduct the necessary actions to prepare for, and mitigate the effects of an emergency or disaster. The mission of the Program is to provide planning, support and leadership in emergency management to our region in order to protect people, property and the environment in the event of an emergency or disaster.
Emergency inquiries can be directed to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Protective Services Manager at (250) 692-3195 or 1-800-320-3339 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Evacuation Information and Procedures
The Why and How of Emergency Evacuations
The Local Authority Emergency Management Regulations require the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to have, in place, local emergency plans, to respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters. Under the Emergency Program Act the province may authorize or require the Regional District to implement the emergency plan for all or part of the jurisdictional area the Regional District is responsible for.
The Legal Authority
The legal authority for local authorities to order an evacuation rests within the Emergency Program Act (1993) Section 12(1). Under this Section the head of a local authority or designate is permitted to declare a state of local emergency giving legal power to: "…cause the evacuation of persons and the removal of livestock, animals and personal property that is or may be affected by an emergency or a disaster and make arrangements for the adequate care and protection of those persons, livestock, animals and personal property." Under Section 9(1) of the Emergency Program Act the Solicitor General is authorized to declare a provincial state of emergency. Under a provincial declaration the Solicitor General has the authority to order evacuations as deemed necessary.
Without warning, disaster can strike and change our region forever. A wildfire can destroy everything in its path; chemical spills can contaminate the environment; and rivers can overflow, flooding residences. Over the last several months, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako responded to ice jams, flooding and wildfire emergencies throughout the region, causing the displacement of families, pets and livestock. Unfortunately, when disaster strikes there is sometimes little time for preparation. To help familiarize you with the process, please review the Three Stage Evacuation Process below.
Three Stage Evacuation Process
Within British Columbia local authorities are encouraged to follow a 'Three Stage Evacuation Process' of Evacuation Alert, Evacuation Order and Evacuation Rescind when preparing to perform or performing evacuations under the legislative authority of the Emergency Program Act.
Stage 1 - Evacuation Alert
The purpose of an Evacuation Alert is to inform the population of the threat of a potential or impending danger. An Evacuation Alert may allow for the affected population to begin preparation to leave the affected area and inform them of the hazard as well as identify the hazard/emergency zone, evacuation route(s) and Reception Centres.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN AN EVACUATION ALERT IS IN EFFECT
Upon notification of an EVACUATION ALERT, you should be prepared for an Evacuation Order by:
- Locating all family members or co-workers and identify the Reception Centre outside the evacuation area where you will meet, should an evacuation be called.
- Gathering essential items such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers (i.e. insurance), immediate care needs for dependants and, if you choose, keepsakes (photographs, etc). Have these items readily available for quick departure.
- Prepare to move any disabled persons and/or children.
- Move pets and livestock to a safe area.
- Arrange to transport your household members or co-workers in the event of an Evacuation Order. If you need transportation assistance from the area please call (250-692-3195 or 1-800-320-3339).
- Arrange accommodation for your family if possible. In the event of an evacuation, Reception Centres will be opened if required.
- Monitoring news sources for information regarding Evacuation Orders and locations of Reception Centres.
- For more information contact: Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako or visit www.rdbn.bc.ca
Stage 2 - Evacuation Order
Under a formal written Evacuation Order the impacted population is ordered to evacuate the area specified immediately. It is an Order and as such does not allow for any discretionary action on the part of the population at risk. All persons in the affected area will be told that, in the interest of their own safety and considering the risk, they are ORDERED to leave the area.
Evacuation is the process of removing persons from an area of imminent or actual threat to individual safety and life to an area of safety. Depending on the nature and scope of the event, evacuations may be limited to a single building, a group of buildings, or affect a large area such as a whole community.
If an evacuation is ordered the Evacuation Order will be delivered to your home.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN AN EVACUATION ORDER IS IN EFFECT:
- You must leave the area IMMEDIATELY;
- If you need transportation assistance from the area please advise the individual providing this notice or call the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako at 250-692-3195 or 1-800-320-3339;
- Close all windows and doors of your home;
- Shut off all gas and electrical appliances, other than refrigerators and freezers;
- Close gates (latch) but do not lock, as emergency workers may need to access your property;
- Gather your family; take a neighbour or someone who needs assistance;
- Take critical items (medicine, purse, wallet, and keys) only if they are immediately available. Take pets in pet kennels or on a leash;
- Do not use more vehicles then you have to;
- Do not use the telephone unless you need emergency services;
Stage 3 - Evacuation Rescind
When the emergency which necessitated the evacuation is under control and the hazard/emergency zone is declared safe, a Rescind of the Evacuation Order is issued. In many situations the population should be advised that although they are being allowed to return to their homes, the risk may reoccur and the potential for the reinstatement of the Evacuation Order remains. Should a second evacuation of the same area be required, the process recommences from Stage 1 or 2 depending on the situation.
In cases where an Evacuation Alert continues to exist some local authorities combine the Evacuation Alert with the Rescind Notice. If it is determined that a rescind is appropriate for a portion of the evacuation area, the entire original Evacuation Order will be rescinded and a new Evacuation Order or alert will be issued with the new boundaries.
Shelter in Place
Some emergencies may involve the release of some form of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear materials. In such a circumstance, you may be required to stay right where you are. It may be that the particular circumstances make that safer for you and emergency personnel than evacuating you immediately to a different location.
During an emergency, you will hear an official media release via radio on CBC Radio One or Vista Radio, The Peak or The Wolfe, regarding the incident. A "Shelter in Place" order requires that you:
- Go inside your home or closest building to you as quickly as possible;
- Close all the doors, windows, fireplaces, vents or other openings;
- Use duct tape, foil or plastic wrap to seal air intake areas;
- Turn off all heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems;
- Close vents;
- Close drapes, curtains and shades;
- Stay away from external windows;
- Use stairwells where possible - limit the use of, or avoid elevators;
- Use telephones only if you require immediate emergency service;
- Turn on your radio or television for information updates;
- You will be advised of the nature of the toxic substance that may have created exposure to the public, and the accompanying symptoms;
- You will be advised how to seek medical attention during and after the event.
If you are sheltering in place, DO NOT:
- Call your children's school or try to pick up your children, they will be safer sheltering in place at school than they would be riding in your vehicle through a potentially hazardous area;
- Risk the safety of your pets. If they cannot be found immediately, shelter in place without them;
- Leave your building or home until you receive notification that the danger has passed.
You should always have enough emergency supplies on hand to last you and your family for one week. Check out the Grab'n'Go article (this is located under the Emergency Planning Section of this website (please create link), or visit Emergency Management BC Website for further information on home emergency supplies.