Training Tool: Emergency Reception Centres in B.C.



there was a time when talking about the weather was a casual conversation opener now inclement weather and natural disasters are headlining the six o'clock news the number of disasters environmental and technological have risen sharply they're unpredictable and had a dramatic impact on the world in terms of both our human and economic costs climate-related disasters are currently a favored cause of population displacement than war and persecution we will be well advised to prepare ourselves for even more shocking and tragic occurrences to come if a community is evacuated because of a flood toxic spills wildfire earthquake or similar calamity where do people go who will provide food and temporary accommodations for them when it is unsafe for them to be in their home or community how will family members find each other where will people get the necessary information and support they need in Canada planning and providing care for evacuees and emergency response workers is called emergency social services or just ESS emergency social services are those services that are provided short term generally 72 hours to preserve the emotional and physical well-being of a vacuous and response workers in emergency situations physical needs are supported with the provision of food clothing lodging or furs de-ess workers provide emotional support for evacuees by actively listening to the concerns and needs of evacuate assisting people to contact their loved ones and providing accurate and timely information about the disaster situation these services generally take place at a reception center although ESS can be provided on a small scale without the activation of reception center these small activations are referred to as level 1 responses over the next few modules we'll be talking about level 2 and 3 responses when a reception center is activated the same services are provided at both levels it's just the scale of the response that is different reception centers our locations designated in the local authorities ESS plan as safe gathering places for people displaced from their homes as a result of an emergency or disaster at the reception center or RC individuals can register and receive emergency social services as well as information about the emergency situation the reception center has often been referred to as an evacuation center registration Center or disaster relief center the commonly accepted term reception center describes the initial function of the center to receive evacuees who have been forced from their homes as a result of an emergency or disaster the most commonly used facilities are those owned by the local authorities such as recreation centers or arenas however many other buildings can be used such as school or college gymnasiums church halls fairground buildings hotel conference rooms and private function halls in the event a safe suitable facility is not available for example following an earthquake a site may be selected and tensor trailers may be erected where ESS workers can provide the same emergency social services for evacuees in locations such as municipal parks campgrounds school playing fields and parking lots during emergency response the emergency social services plan is activated under the direction of the local ESS director the emergency program coordinator or their designate whether or not reception center will be open depends on many factors including the size of the emergency the number of evacuees availability of the facilities and the availability of trained DSS workers where the RC is located will depend on the location of the emergency or disaster for instance an RC wouldn't be opened if the entire town is being threatened by a wind-driven interface wildfire or major clinic in that case a neighboring community that is not affected by the same event would be asked to host the reception center you emergency social services are those services that may be required to meet the basic survival needs of people who have experienced the disaster a reception center is the facility where the services are made available ESS assistance is usually available for the first 72 hours following the disaster should further assistance be required a request for extension of services is sent through the local authority Emergency Operations Center to Emergency Management BC for authorization services available through a reception center may be provided directly to the vacu is or by issuing a referral form to the appropriate service providers services may include some or all of the following food immediate food services may be made available at the reception center at a separate group lodging facility or by referral forms of local restaurants lodging accommodation for a large number of evacuees may be provided at a group lodging facility separate from the reception center or a referral form may be issued for either local commercial accommodation or building in a private home clothing and personal care items evacuees II did not have enough time to pack before leaving home may receive a referral form to purchase essential clothing and basic personal care items reuniting of family members reception center workers may use a paper-based registration system to help family members find each other pay phones cell phones or Internet services may also be made available in the reception center so vacu ease who do not have their own devices can contact family and friends directly in disasters where regular communication systems are not operating emergency radio communications may also be set up to assist with family reunification emotional support specially trained DSS workers associated service agency staff or volunteers or spiritual support workers are often on hand at the reception center to provide emotional support to evacuate assisting people with special needs reception center workers will ensure appropriate assistance or services for evacuees with special needs first aid and health services evacuees with health concerns may be referred to a health service provider at the reception center if available on-site or to other community health services multicultural services communities with diverse cultural populations will often make arrangements to provide translation services at the reception center as well as accommodating other cultural needs such as special dietary requirements pet care and other services as needed the back.you is arriving at the reception center with pets may find services are available on-site or at a nearby location to care for their pets while they're being interviewed which services are provided will depend on the nature length and complexity of the emergency or disaster and how much time people are given before the evacuation emergency social services is based on functions the provision of food temporary accommodations clothing and personal care items the reuniting of family members emotional support assisting persons with special needs first aid and health services multicultural services pet care and other essential needs in small events one or two workers may be able to do all of these functions while some disasters could require 20 or even 200 ESS workers to provide these same services now if we think functions and ensure all required functions and services are covered then we can increase or decrease the number of ESS workers required to do the job it is important to note that not every function may be filled or addressed in every emergency the situation at hand will dictate the functions required the reception center management team consists of the following positions a reception center manager who is responsible for the overall management of a reception center and ensuring that all required functions are activated and carried out an information officer who serves as a coordination point for media releases public meetings and other information gathering and delivery a liaison officer who is the primary contact for personnel from ESS support organizations and other external agencies arriving at the reception center to work a safety officer who monitors safety conditions and develops measures to provide for the safety and well-being of all personnel including the implementation of worker care strategies the general staff or sections chiefs are responsible for the overseeing of the internal function of their respective sections and interacting with other sections Chiefs to ensure an effective ESS response the operations section chief is responsible for the direct service delivery to evacuate at all reception centers within the operations section there are several branches and units each responsible for a specific service some or all of these branches or units may be activated depending on the size and complexity of the evacuation the primary services branch is the hub of most reception center upper the planning section chief oversees the gathering and the analysis of all data regarding reception center activities conducts planning meetings and prepares the reception center action plan for each operational period planning section also has a number of units to help the planning chief with his or her responsibilities the documentation unit is needed for every reception center activation the logistics section chief is responsible for providing all the support needs and resources for the reception center this includes but is not limited to supplies equipment personnel refreshments facility maintenance and communications branches and units within the logistics section may also be activated to provide the specific support required for each emergency or disaster response the financial section chief monitors reception center costs administers any EOC approved procurement contracts in conjunction with logistics and ensures that all financial records pertaining to the operation of the reception center are maintained throughout the event units in the finance section may also be activated to assist with these tasks as needed the SS director is not part of the organizational chart but the reception center as he or she will likely be located at the local authority EOC filling the role of the SS branch coordinator within the Operations Section more information about the ESS directors role can be found in the operational guidelines when opening the reception center you will need to know what services will be needed the reception center manager will determine the setup required depending on many variables including the size of the disaster and the services required you may or may not set up the entire facility small-scale evacuations are emergencies that are short in duration may not require the full services of a reception center for example a reception center might be open during prolonged power outage or severe winter storm so that residents have a place to go to get information and a hot cup of coffee under these circumstances people would not likely need to register or receive referrals so the reception center may only mean a small number of ESS workers if the incident changes and the evacuees needs change the type of services may expand and may require more ESS staff for example an evacuation caused by a gas leak could go from being just a couple of hours to a day or even more or the event may grow in scale like the forest fires in 2003 when all the functions of a reception center are activated and are filled by workers over an extended period of time the important thing to remember is that the reception center organization can expand or contract as in each change having determined the services to be provided you will decide on a floor plan suitable for this response and identify the equipment and supplies needed your ESS management team will have surveyed various facilities developed an inventory or directory of what is available at each and designed floor plans for different service levels as part of the SS planning process when a vacuous come to a reception center they are greeted by an ESS meter and greeter who will assess their needs and send them to the appropriate station at the reception center if an evacuee or family requires registration and referrals for food lodging clothing or other services a meter and greeter will direct them to a registration and referrals worker who will work with the evacuation or family to address their immediate needs if an evacuee your family does not require any assistance with food lodging or clothing and only needs to register then the meter and greeter will take them to the registration only station registration only is an Express line which can tract of a Kiwis who only need to register this process is called the one-stop option although the provincially recommended model for providing services to evacuate is the one-stop option there may be times when your team needs to move to a modified version of the service delivery called the to stop option the to stop option works as follows stop one all evacuate akin to the registration station to register their safety and whereabouts stop two following registration only those evacuate acquiring assistance with food lodging or clothing will be taken to a second station to be interviewed by a referrals worker who will in turn provide referral forms to be taken to local suppliers now which system you use will depend on several factors such as the number of evacuees the number of VSS workers the number of walk-in volunteers or the reception center floor plan your ESS management team will need to decide which method will be the most effective given the circumstances of the incident either option is viable it's important to remember that registration and referrals are only two of the many services potentially available at a reception center and remember to that as the response involves so will the reception center one final thought we leave you with there is no right way to set up and run a reception center the ESS service model is designed to be adapted to your community's contexts and resources whether you're delivering services in Vancouver or Vanderhoof you

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