Volunteers were working hard at the Echo Centre reception centre during the second day of Exercise Coastal Response to ensure evacuees got the emergency social services they needed.
The job of a reception centre is to provide evacuees with the necessary assistance they may need post-disaster, including clothing, food, shelter, medical assistance, family reunification and emotional support.
Echo’s reception centre opened around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8 and saw close to 40 evacuees, high school student volunteers, by around 2:30 p.m.
Emergency Social Service volunteers inside the reception centre have various roles to assist with evacuee placement from documentation to disaster psychosocial support.
Steve Bilodeau, sports facilities supervisor with the City of Port Alberni, was managing, for his first time, the reception centre. Wanting to be more proactive in the community, Bilodeau took a course on emergency social services to help become prepared in the case of a real disaster situation.
“Since these are our facilities…we should be taking a more proactive stance being in our own facilities instead of volunteers from the community coming into our facilities not knowing where anything is and not knowing how things operate,” Bilodeau said. “This is a way for us to take ownership of our facilities if there is a disaster…we know where everything is.”
Bilodeau said he received a call around 11:36 a.m. on Wednesday and was given the situation that the reception centre at the Alberni Multiplex was overcrowded and another one needed to be opened.
“That was my lead to come here and get this one open,” he said.
At the end of the day the responsibility of a reception centre manager is to provide a situation report to the Emergency Operations Centre which will identify the amount of evacuees assisted and what services they were provided. The report will then be sent to Emergency Management BC who will evaluate the information.