The Alberni Valley’s disaster response techniques were tested after a mock magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit the region on June 7-10.
Excercise Coastal Response, British Columbia’s first-ever provincially led, full-scale earthquake response exercise, was coordinated by the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) in conjunction with the province that tested elements of a new B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan. The province provided $1 million to support Exercise Coastal Response.
“The auditor general of the province took a look at the province’s preparedness for major emergencies and came up with a number of recommendations,” said Russell Dyson, chief administrative officer at the ACRD. “The province has taken action as a result of the recommendations and announced Exercise Coastal Response.”
Over the four days, First responders from around the province, stakeholders from all levels of government as well as Emergency Management BC staff, First Nations, Crown corporations, critical infrastructure owners and non-government organizations visited the Alberni Valley to collaboratively work to respond to the impacts of a catastrophic event along coastal B.C.
The Alberni Athletic Hall was used as a group lodging facility for “victims”—played by more than 200 local volunteers throughout the week—whose homes were damaged heavily from the earthquake.
(Story continues below)
Volunteers with the Red Cross provided the volunteer occupants with emergency social services and other needs they may have required post disaster.
Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto, toured “ground zero” in Port Alberni on Thursday, June 9.
Task Force 1, Vancouver’s heavy urban rescue search and rescue team were also present in the Valley throughout the exercise undergoing mock rescue exercises.
An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), staffed by regional district and city staff, as well as first responders and volunteers, was in full operations throughout the exercise.
The EOC emphasized fulfilling logistical needs locally when possible throughout the exercise.
Communications were carried out by the Amateur Radio Club via satellite phone and ham radio both internally throughout the Alberni Valley and to the province.
Read more Emergency Coastal Response stories from 2016: