Tofino Emergency Information: Be Prepared
Like many areas in the world Tofino may encounter emergency situations. The goal is to be as prepared as possible so that in the unlikely event of an emergecny we can be organized to act responsibly.
GoTofino has been provided the following emergency information by the Tofino Emergency Social Services who is helping us be prepared for emergency situations such an an earthquake or a tsunami. Being prepared for such an event means that we can enjoy our time on the West Coast with the knowledge that if an emergency occurs we are ready to face it.
We can work to help ourselves and each other. Please review the information and prepare for yourself, your family and your pets. You may never need to use your preparations, but if you have occasion to use them you’ll be very happy you have made them.
About the West Coast Emergency Planning Committee
With the recent media focus on emergency planning and response on the west coast we, the West Coast Emergency Planning committee, felt it was important to keep local residents informed by providing regular updates and information. This first report is an overview to help you identify who is involved in the local emergency program, and how it is that we develop our emergency plans.
The British Columbia Emergency Program Act requires that every community prepare and develop emergency plans to alleviate or meet any emergency that might arise. Ucluelet, Tofino, the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD), the local First Nations including Ahousaht, Ucluelet, Tla-o-qui-aht, as well as the National Park all have emergency programs in place. These are in a constant state of review because of many factors including; changes in scientific information, social awareness, member turn over, environmental changes, and public support and involvement to name a few.
The positions in our emergency programs are largely staffed by volunteers who invest a significant amount of time in training, exercises and certification so that they can provide a professional service. Within the last few years, the Emergency Coordinator positions in Ucluelet, Tofino, and ACRD have been assigned as a part time task to a full time employee in a related field. For example, in Tofino the Public Works Foreman (who is also the Fire Chief) has been given 1 day/month out of his regular schedule to maintain the Emergency Plan. In Ucluelet, the Bylaw Officer is given 1 day/week to work as the Acting Emergency Coordinator. All other positions, both in and outside these communities, are held by volunteers.
While each community works on the development and implementation of its own plans, we also collaborate and coordinate with surrounding communities through the West Coast Emergency Planning committee. This committee includes Emergency Coordinators, Emergency Social Services Directors and local first responder agency representatives from Ahousaht through to the Ucluelet First Nation as well as the Pacific Rim National Park.
Our task is to ensure a united response to disasters that could affect the region.
This committee also coordinates with experts to ensure that the best available information is made available to the public. A good example of this is the recent development of the 15 meter planning level for tsunamis. Competing input was provided by a range of scientists and it was necessary to come up with a rational and defensible recommendation. A meeting was held at Tin Wis and included Provincial, Federal and university based scientists as well as emergency planning and response personnel. The end result of this meeting was a consensus on the 15 meter level – higher than the level initially recommended by the Natural Resources Canada and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, but lower than the level suggested by scientists involved in detailed run-up modeling simulations on the west coast of the island. This was felt by all concerned to be appropriate for our situation.
Our emergency planning is an all hazards approach which means we look at a wide range of different events. We have recently focused on tsunami because we have limited resources (we can’t do everything at once) and it is one of the catastrophic events where there can be significant lead times in which we can do something to save lives – evacuate people from hazard zones. We are using the funds and public interest in tsunamis to improve our ability to respond to all events. For example we are developing dedicated Emergency Operations Centers in our communities, investigating coast wide communications systems and training personnel to work in emergency operations centers.
If you are interested in providing support to your local emergency program, there are a number of ways to do it. Volunteer your time, get yourself, your family and your business prepared. Training is available and can accommodate those who are interested in assisting in an emergency with a variety of roles and time commitments. Voice your ideas, issues and questions to the emergency program team and Mayor and Council, and Stay tuned for more information in regards to the actions, direction and goals of our emergency programs.
Our emergency programs are not someone else’s responsibility, it’s everyone’s – so do your part now. With your support, we will continue to improve and implement the best emergency procedures for a safer community for all of us.
West Coast Emergency Planning Committee