Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness

By Roy L Hales

Two distinctly different threats and, a variety of methods of dealing with them, were identified at Cortes Islands Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program (NEPP) workshop at Mansons Hall on April 16, 2019. 

“ … NEPP, Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness programs, get to be whatever you want. It is outside the realm of a government program … I am here to support you with whatever you want, assuming you want anything. I had no idea what Marion and Mary-Lou were up to until the last time I was here and how extensive they’ve put it in here. That’s awesome, I don’t need to be involved, but I am here if you need me to be.” –  Shaun Koopman Protective Services Coordinator for the Strathcona Regional District.

Two Events To Prepare For: 

“Two events we concentrated on … Fire, whether it is an individual home fire or a wild fire that could rage down upon our neighbourhood, God forbid. The second was an earthquake and we are talking about an earthquake that may be higher than a seven point something on a Richter scale … If the Cascadia fault goes on the other side of Vancouver Island, we are looking at a nine point two” – Mary-Lu Lorenson, Coordinator of the Potlatch Road NEPP on Cortes Island.

“A lot of our worries are about the Air B & B and vacation rental people. They come here, they think it is this remote island. Everything’s great, there are no rules, there is no police. They have campfires …” – Marion Bennet, organizer, Potlatch Road NEPP.

In the Podcast:

  • Who will step into the breach if the normal emergency response infrastructure is overwhelmed by a major disaster? 
  • The NEPP in Campbell River, Quadra Island and the Potlatch Road area of Cortes Island.
  • “What are we actually going to do when something happens?” – the Potlatch Road neighbourhood’s response.
  • How extensive is the NEPP program on Quadra Island? And what enabled such a rapid  expansion? 
  • Chris Drieksa, Naomi Hayter and an unidentified woman mention specific incidents where they needed to inform tourists about the fire ban on Cortes Island.
  • The strong roles newcomers to the community play in Quadra Island’s NEPP program.
  • Welcoming newcomers, neighbourhood surveys, community potlucks, larger events (like the Quadra Island’s Fall Fair; Cortes Day) – ways and venues to initiate a conversation about NEPP
  • What did a Strathcona Regional District Firesmart grant enable on Cortes Island? And how was this grant used on Quadra Island.
  • How Gabriola Island’s NEPP saved a life.
  • How valuable is Ham Radio in an emergency situation? 
  • What is Connect Rocket? How will it alert the community in the case of an emergency?
  • How Connect Rocket was used to call out the emergency support services team during a recent fire in Gold River.
  • How the Quadra Island NEPP is using Connect Rocket.  
  • Thanks to its back-up generator, how long does Cortes Radio, CKTZ 89.5 FM, normally stay on after the grid goes down? What technology does the station possess that will enable it to keep broadcasting should a major emergency take both the grid and internet out? 
  • What is Quadra Island’s emergency reverse directory? And how would it save Firefighters, Police and other responders time?  
  • What is a NEPP phone tree? And how is it used?
  • “Help” & “Okay” signs; Alternate ways to help first responders know where they are needed; where these signs are most effective..
  • Why is it important to report into the neighbourhood assembly point within an hour of a major emergency. How to respond if people do not report in and hence may be in need of intervention?
  • The value of an emergency response team.
  • Shaun Koopman’s new project: a booklet on how to set up an NEPP in your neighbourhood.

Re Annual NEPP Potlucks: 

“Don’t underestimate the importance of neighbours even just recognizing each others faces. Should you come to the door needing help, or offering help, if the person recognizes you it is a great asset..” – Betsy Young, NEPP co-ordinator for Quadra Island

Top photo credit: Potlatch Road on Cortes Island – Roy L Hales photo

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