The B.C. government and the Canadian Red Cross Society have formalized a partnership to deploy disaster management infrastructure, equipment and personnel more quickly and effectively in response to a major catastrophic event or natural disaster.
Through this agreement – one of the first of its kind in Canada – Emergency Management BC, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development and the Canadian Red Cross will work together to provide collaborative planning, training and joint exercises that will enhance mutual emergency and disaster response capacity.
As well, government and the Red Cross will develop and implement a plan and framework to help ensure the continued timely and effective deployment of Emergency Response Units (ERUs) as temporary resources to assist British Columbia in times of a major or catastrophic disaster.
In Canada, first responders and emergency management organizations already work closely to provide life-saving activities in partnership with Red Cross. However, in a major catastrophic disaster like the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, local response efforts could be overwhelmed. This is when the Red Cross can pull together its extensive resources and expertise.
This agreement lays the foundation that could bring in national or international Red Cross ERUs if and when a major disaster hits British Columbia. ERUs are standardized, modular packages of trained personnel and equipment that are ready to be deployed to emergencies within 24 to 48 hours. They are fully self-sufficient for one month and can be deployed for up to four months.
The agreement also sets out priorities for both strategic and operational co-ordination, and will help ensure effective planning through risk management and integrated programming across agencies.