A Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) disaster response team will be participating in training exercises around the island this week, including Port Alberni.
Members of the Kingston, Ontario-based 1st Canadian Division will be on Vancouver Island conducting Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) exercises around Comox, Port Alberni, Nanaimo and Campbell River.
These exercises will practice dealing with humanitarian disasters where Canadian military assets need to be deployed. Canada has deployed DART members to numerous countries since 1998, including Nepal following an earthquake in 2015 and the Philippines following a typhoon in 2013.
“We basically are a military team always on standby in the wake of a significant disaster,” said Lieutenant Commander Diane Grover.
“For example an earthquake, or a tsunami.”
They practice different scenarios—the situation this week will be a devastating earthquake. Grover said the team will be pretending to be on a ship from a foreign country.
“A lot of what we’re doing is planning, coordination, passing along information,” she said.
“We will be using the ship and doing boat transfers.”
They hold an annual training exercise, and this year the exercise is coming to Vancouver Island. Exercises in previous years have been held in places like Belleville, Ontario and Jamaica.
“In different years we have different objectives,” Grover said. “This year we really want to test out our naval forces.”
“This is a first,” she added.
“Most of us have never been up to Port Alberni so we’re really looking forward to it.”
The team will be holding exercises around Port Alberni on Thursday and Friday.