What is Emergency Support Services (ESS)?

Emergency Support Services (ESS) provides short-term assistance to British Columbians who are forced to leave their homes because of fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies. It is a community-based provincial emergency response program designed to assist those affected by an emergency or disaster, whether that be a single house fire or a major disaster involving mass evacuations.

The goal of ESS is to help people begin to re-establish themselves as quickly as possible after a disaster.  ESS plays an important role in Emergency Management in BC by:

  • Helping people to remain independent and self-sufficient
  • Helping people meet their basic survival needs during a disaster
  • Reuniting families separated by disaster
  • Providing people affected by disaster with accurate and up-to-date information
When is ESS provided?

Although ESS is designed to provide services to individuals affected by large complex disasters or emergencies, ESS may also be provided during smaller emergencies; for example a single house fire or emergencies affecting 1 to 2 families in a community.

The program is available for 72 hours after the disaster or emergency occurs. During these first 72 hours, evacuees should immediately plan their next steps by contacting their insurance agents, families and friends or accessing other possible resources.

Sparwood ESS Team

In Sparwood, local ESS planning and response is organized by the Emergency Support Services Director, Shelby Bell and a team of trained volunteers who support professional emergency responders.

Reception Centre

A Reception Centre is a pre-identified facility where ESS services can be provided to the community. The location of the centre(s) will be publicized via the media, as they become available.

If you evacuate your home, it is recommended that you register at a Reception Centre, if one has been activated by the District.  This is important even if you plan to stay with friends or relatives and not at one of the locations set up to house evacuees.  Registration ensures emergency officials know that you have left the area and are accounted for.

Primary Services

Reception Centres provide evacuees with:

  • meals if they are without food or food preparation facilities;
  • clothing, blankets and toiletries;
  • templorary lodging if they are unable to find lodging for themselves; and
  • assistance with finding and re-uniting loved ones.
Specialized Services

Services offered at a Reception Centre vary depending on the type of emergency.  Some of the specialized services a Reception Centre may offer include:

  • emotional support;
  • first aid and other health services;
  • child minding;
  • pet care; and
  • transportation.
Group Lodging

Group Lodging is a safe place where people can go to: 

  • sleep and eat;
  • receive specialized care, including multicultural services and transportation; and
  • health services such as first aid and emotional support.

Group Lodging is often located in community centres, recreation centres, churches or schools, and could even be located in a tent depending on what is available in the community. Whether or not Group Lodging is opened depends on many factors including the size of the emergency, the availability of commercial lodgings and the number of responders.

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