A multi-agency provincial emergency exercise kicked off in Port Alberni on Tuesday, June 7 with emergency responders and volunteers responding to the aftermath of a mock 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami.
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 are in the Valley until Friday, June 10 to model how they would collaboratively work to respond to the impacts of a catastrophic event along coastal B.C.
All those involved in the exercise knew very little, if anything, about what the disaster was going to be before the exercise started. They have been responding to scenarios thrown at them from organizers.
The exercise is aimed at testing the BC Earthquake Immediate Response Plan.
The Alberni Athletic Hall is being used as a group lodging facility for those “victims”—played by more than 200 local volunteers throughout the week—whose homes are damaged heavily and inaccessible. Volunteers with the Red Cross are providing the volunteer occupants with emergency social services and other needs they may have required post disaster.
In the parking lot of the hall, the provincial Salvation Army had four Community Response Units to the valley to feed the volunteers in the event.
“The Salvation Army is responsible for the feeding in the exercise,” Beverley Woodland-Slous, community and government relations director with the Salvation Army, said. “All together in British Columbia we have 14 units of varying sizes.”
Also occupying the Athletic Hall’s parking lot is the Oceanside Emergency Communications team who are responsible for handling messages from the reception centres and passing them onto the Emergency Operations Centre at the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.
The Alberni Valley Multiplex is being used as a reception centre where Emergency Social Service volunteers are set up ready to assist evacuees with post disaster services.
Chris James, reception centre manager, said the centre opened at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and 30 evacuees were registered, many of whom were referred to group lodging.
In the parking lot of the multiplex the British Columbia Mobile Medical Unit was set up, along with the Critical Response Unit and several other BC ambulance vehicles.
Groups of walking wounded residents, volunteers who were given makeovers to look like they had suffered lacerations and wounds to themselves, were instructed to register at the reception centre inside the Multiplex where they would be recommended for further medical evaluations.
Exercises take place throughout the week and will wrap up on Friday, June 10. An open house will be available to the public on Friday at the Alberni Valley Multiplex from 1–3 p.m. for an opportunity to meet emergency preparedness representatives from around the province.