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Emergency Preparedness - are you ready?


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#1 osmich

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 04:27 PM

I am starting this important thread because I am a volunteer with VEMA (Victoria Emergency Management Agency). I am part of a dynamic group that is involved in emergency preparedness & planning through training and exercises.

Do you ever wonder who takes care of people that are displaced in an apartment fire at 3am? That's us. We quietly arrive when called, set up our van and start to register people. We provide them emotional support and direction on what to do next including getting them into accomodations, provide food and clothing if required. What about a major disaster? That's us too. We would coordinate and assemble a large group of volunteers, set up a reception centre and possibly group lodging, register people, and then provide whatever resources people would require including accomodations and food to clothing and toiletries.

How prepared are you? Do you have a grab and go bag? Do you have enough supplies to last 7 days in case of an earthquake? Do you know how to do a quick inspection of your house to know whether it is safe to stay in it after an earthquake?

This thread will set out to provide information on emergency preparedness through conversation and links to websites.

We are always looking for people to join as volunteers as well. There is absolutely no experience required for a variety of positions available. Full training is provided through the Justice Institute of British Columbia, Red Cross or our own people and there is no cost for these training sessions. If you do have experience in search and rescue, nursing, ham radio operations or anything else related to our organization of course we would love to hear from you also but again there is no experience required at all.

I am looking forward to this thread and thanks in advance for your contributions!

#2 G-Man

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 04:49 PM

This is a cool thread idea. Alright so I have a question. I have a big thing of water in my closet how long can you keep it before it needs to be changed. Also is it worth having since we do have our hot water tank?

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#3 Mike K.

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 04:57 PM

I'm definitely interested in knowing how to examine a house after an earthquake to gauge whether or not it is safe to inhabit.

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#4 Holden West

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 05:12 PM

The most critical thing is making sure George W. Bush is not your leader.


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#5 m0nkyman

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 05:21 PM

And be better armed than anyone around you.


#6 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 06:29 PM

The most critical thing is making sure George W. Bush is not your leader.


No it's not. Take responsibility for yourself and your family. Don't expect the government to be your saviour.
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#7 osmich

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 07:50 PM

An excellent example of why it is imperative we know what to do because you are right, Government can only do so much.

VEMA is made up primarily of volunteers like you and me so the more we know the more we can assist our families, neighbours and those most vulnerable and still there will only be so much we can do.

If an earthquake hits Victoria we could expect to be alone for up to 7 days!

#8 gumgum

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 07:52 PM

^^ I think he was joking.

Still. The elderly and the disabled depend on government help in those situations.

#9 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:10 PM

Well, I understand all the things I'm supposed to do (I even have access to the useful "26 weeks to emergency preparedness" -- or something like that -- where you do a task or two every week for x-number of weeks, and thereby set up your and your family's preparedness), but I still don't really do it.

For one thing, where to store all the stuff you're supposed to have at hand in your "kit": in the basement? But why in the basement, if that's a place that might become dangerous to enter after an earthquake? In the garage? What if you have no garage or basement? Or even a spare closet? Where does anyone without a spare bedroom or a basement or a garage store a pick-axe? Extra boots for everyone in the family (and what about growing feet -- how often do you have to do fittings to make sure your emergency stuff actually fits the kids? Coats? Dog food? A chain saw? It's so much to think about... no wonder many people just give up.

And should it all be individual reserves? What about the army? Emergency supplies in an armoury?

You know what really has me puzzled, too? If there is a big earthquake and if many structures were damaged by it, whatever would we do to get everything repaired, given that you can't even get a contractor to come over now, for just a small, tiny little plain vanilla renovation project? Heaven help us if half the housing stock in the region suddenly needed contractors...
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#10 osmich

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:27 PM

I'm definitely interested in knowing how to examine a house after an earthquake to gauge whether or not it is safe to inhabit.


Derf -

Here is a link to the City of Victoria workshop page where you will find a number of courses including damage assessment. I am not sure at this time if they are planning any summer workshops however you can contact Pam at the number listed on the page and she can assist you with times.

http://www.victoria.... ... sked.shtml

Pam is based out of 1234 Yates Street which is the main FIre Hall in Victoria. Should you live in another jurisdiction like Langford, Metchosin, Sooke etc then you would contact your municipality directly. Victoria and Esquimalt are teamed together.

#11 Caramia

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 09:11 PM

Interesting thread. We seem to have missed the workshops for this year, but if they run them again, I wouldn't mind going.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
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#12 Holden West

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 10:26 PM

So if we had a Kobe-type earthquake as expected, and say, 2000 people die and 5000-10000 are homeless, where do we go? The website vaguely mentions some "block watch" program whatever that is.

It's a safe bet that no matter what is written in the plan, homeless people in south Victoria will migrate to Beacon Hill park. Central residents might go to the arena and residents in the north will migrate to Topaz park. How many hours will it take to bring in tents and supplies?

It's a safe bet all phone and cell service will be down. How will officials communicate? CREST?

Where will the temporary morgue be to hold the thousands of bodies?
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#13 osmich

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 04:54 AM

Interesting thread. We seem to have missed the workshops for this year, but if they run them again, I wouldn't mind going.

Hi Caramia,

I am a volunteer with VEMA in the ESS (Emergency Social Services department). I would encourage you to keep watching the calendar for upcoming training workshops as they will appear again. We are just putting together new teams of volunteers to put the workshops on and schedules need to be adjusted. We have had some volunteers move on so this has created holes in the workshop schedules.

Alternatively I would welcome you and anyone on here that would like to learn all about what VEMA does in the community by training, courses and lot's of excercises to come and volunteer with us. It is super fun, exciting, awesome teambuilding and all the training is free. Some of the courses are put on by The Justice Institute of BC, Red Cross and internally by our own people within VEMA.

Our next team meeting will be coming up on August 15 which happens to be our summer barbecue so what a better meeting to attend. Anyone who is planning on joining our team can attend the meetings but in order to become a full fledged volunteer with position and assignments they must go through the orientation, volunteer application and sign-off by the Deputy Emergency Coordinator.

I hope this helps and we would love to have you as a volunteer! No experience necessary!

http://www.veess.ca/

#14 osmich

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 05:34 AM

So if we had a Kobe-type earthquake as expected, and say, 2000 people die and 5000-10000 are homeless, where do we go? The website vaguely mentions some "block watch" program whatever that is.

It's a safe bet that no matter what is written in the plan, homeless people in south Victoria will migrate to Beacon Hill park. Central residents might go to the arena and residents in the north will migrate to Topaz park. How many hours will it take to bring in tents and supplies?

It's a safe bet all phone and cell service will be down. How will officials communicate? CREST?

Where will the temporary morgue be to hold the thousands of bodies?


Hi Holden,

Excellent questions! I think we can safely assume that there is no city on the planet that is ever completely prepared for major events. Also, municipal, provincial and federal government agencies cannot possibly do everything so then it is left up to us to learn how to prepare for ourselves. Also, depending on the disaster and where it hits the hardest will then determine exactly what kind of help can be enacted and how the teams can be mobilized. We work with multiple agencies and I encourage you to click further into the website you saw the blockwatch stuff http://www.victoria....ments_vep.shtml and go to ESS - Emergency Social Services http://www.veess.ca/ and then go to Supporting Agencies.

It is really amazing to hear how many people are not prepared for the big one or any kind of significant event that could leave us homeless for several days but this is changing. I was one of those people not prepared about a year ago and then I got involved because of a fire in the garage of my apartment building. The events to leave someone homeless do not have to be earthquakes either. They could be a house fire that demolishes the house or a large apartment fire where many floors are deemed too hazardous to live in and thus this leaves people homeless.

The blockwatch program is an excellent example of fine volunteers/neigbours that live on a certain block that will help spread the word about emergency preparedness and letting people know that they need to prepare themselves and how to do it. It is very different than what I do and I think maybe you thought "well, how the hell is the blockwatch program going to help everyone?" and your right but VEMA (Victoria Emergency Management Agency) has a broad scope of services.

Holden, I invite you to come to one of our team meetings or upcoming orientation sessions to find out how we really do respond in emergencies of all types and more importantly what kind of training and excercises we go through to respond to many types of scenarios like the ones you have mentioned. You will learn that we have agreements with several buildings around Victoria that would serve as Reception or Group Lodging Centres. Yes, of course we have alternatives because we know that some may not be standing after the big one! You will learn where we have thousands of cots stashed! We have many plans in place but even those may not be enough to help everyone and it would be naive to think it possible that is why it is important to know what to do ourselves.

You will be amazed at what we prepare for but you could only really find that out by being a volunteer or by receiving our services when the time comes (hopefully this won't happen). It is always better to be prepared so please come out and volunteer.

#15 osmich

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 03:08 PM

Some of you in previous posts were interested in the neighborhood emergency workshops that our organization offers free of charge like 'how to use a fire extinguisher' or 'individual and family preparedness'.

Well, the calendar has been finalized for the next few months for some of the workshops and you can find them at the link I have provided.

http://www.victoria.... ... sked.shtml

With all of the disasters around the world like the earthquakes in Peru or the ravaging of hurricanes it is very wise to mitigate uncomfortable and desperate circumstances before they happen - ARE YOU PREPARED?

Get started here http://www.victoria.... ... lyprep.pdf

#16 Caramia

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 05:14 PM

Much appreciated!
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#17 osmich

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 05:03 PM

If anyone is interested in volunteering with the Victoria Emergency Management Agency there is a new member orientation happening on September 26, 2007 at 1234 Yates Street which is the main fire hall.

The time is from 7pm - 9pm.

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn and take an active role in emergency preparedness, take part in one of several important roles and perhaps eventually become a level one responder to real life emergencies in Victoria through training and excercises.

All courses provided either through the City of Victoria, The Justice Institute of British Columbia, Red Cross and many other agencies are all provided FREE of charge.

There is no experience required to be a volunteer as training is provided in all of the areas that we do work in, of course if you have experience in nursing, first aid, emergency planning, search and rescue, compassionate care, pet care and other things then we would welcome you as well.

I started with no experience at all!

#18 Rob Randall

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:13 PM

A message from VEMA:

Hello to all Community Associations in the City of Victoria,

In the spirit of community and networking we need your help in getting the word out. The City of Victoria Emergency Management Agency is holding an evening emergency preparedness seminar open to anyone from the public.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be prepared for emergencies and disasters? Do you have a simple emergency plan for your family? A kit? Recent earthquakes off the north end of Vancouver Island, as well as severe winter weather, have reminded us all of the need for emergency preparedness here at home.

If you have never participated in an emergency preparedness workshop you may want to sign up for one that is fast approaching.

Here are the details:
What: Individual & Family Preparedness Workshop
When: Monday, January 21st, 6:45 PM to 8:45 PM
Where: Fairfield New Horizons at 1-380 Cook St.
Who: Anyone is welcome to attend
RSVP: Yes, please at 920-3373 or at vema@info.ca
No Cost

Check out our website for other emergency preparedness courses this year.
http://www.victoria...._wrkshp2008.pdf


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#19 Holden West

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 08:50 AM

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Victoria's master of disaster
Images of misery offer a learning opportunity for emergency co-ordinator; he takes notes


TOM HAWTHORN

Special to The Globe and Mail; tomhawthorn@gmail.com

May 14, 2008

VICTORIA -- The wounded moan from beneath plastic sheets. They wait for help along the roadside, miserable in the rain.

Other victims are trapped by the rubble of fallen buildings. The front page of this newspaper yesterday showed a man pinned like a butterfly in an entomologist's collection. One of his rescuers, holding aloft a bag of saline solution, stood atop the beam that pinched his right leg.

No food. No water. No power. Little hope.

Rob Johns studies these images of misery. Much can be learned from the aftermath of China's earthquake and in the wake of the cyclone and storm surge that devastated the country formerly known as Burma.

He seeks inspiration from the horror.

Mr. Johns, 41, is a family man whose calling it has become to prepare the British Columbia capital for such an eventuality.

He is the city's master of disaster.

Central China and coastal Myanmar are distant, but Victoria's emergency co-ordinator knows distress overseas might some day make our own tribulations easier.

"Those are faraway places," he acknowledged, "but because of the business I'm in, I take immediate notice."

Some of us reach into our wallets when disaster strikes. Mr. Johns takes notes. He wants to know what works and, more importantly, what fails as emergency workers try to deliver aid.

Two years ago, he travelled to New Orleans to view the devastation following the landfall of hurricane Katrina. He toured the flooded Ninth Ward, then travelled to Biloxi on the Mississippi coast. Five months had passed, but the land looked "like it had happened yesterday. The damage had not been cleaned up. Debris was still in the streets."

He could not help but overlay the damage he saw on the Gulf Coast onto a map of Vancouver Island. Imagine an area stretching from Parksville to Victoria, ranging inland as much as five kilometres, completely destroyed. That's what he saw.

Mr. Johns came to emergency preparedness as a volunteer. In 1996, after the blizzard that paralyzed Victoria, he helped out as a radio operator. He even shovelled snow from roofs when senior citizens called for help.

After nine years as a volunteer and eight as an emergency manager, he knows how important it is to prepare. He has grab-and-go kits in his office at the Yates Street fire hall, as well as in his car. His home kit includes enough food and water to supply himself, his wife and their eight-month-old daughter for more than a week. He has not forgotten to supply their cat and dog.

Mr. Johns lives day to day in a different fashion than the rest of us. A pyramid of boxes at the grocer is a reminder that more earthquake injuries are suffered from objects falling on people than from buildings collapsing.

Even a near miss provides a lesson. Seattle school officials were pleased many of their students ducked beneath their desks when an earthquake rattled the region four years ago. They had been taught to "drop, cover and hold." Some forgot the last bit, however, and wound up exposed as their desks jiggled away.

Many of us feel immune. Why?

"The place obviously works. Our roads are good. Hydro rarely goes down. We get insulated. We get accustomed to those things being available. We don't have any memory of a disaster."

He encourages people to stock supplies and to make themselves familiar with the resources offered by the city.

Maps are available showing areas in which the ground is made of sand or fill, which are most likely to suffer damage in the event of a major earthquake. Another indicates the low-lying coastal areas of the city most endangered by a tsunami. (Memo to self: Avoid the Inner Harbour.)

The city also sponsors regular workshops. Sometimes, the sessions attract as few as a half-dozen citizens.

The one scheduled for last night at the Burnside-Gorge Community Centre had 35 names on the sign-up sheet. Misery begets company. Bad news overseas today may save lives here in the future.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#20 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 12:12 PM

And did anyone see the letter in today's T-C? I think this guy is right -- imagine, 13 mayors directing disaster "relief"...

Disaster planning would be a disaster
Times Colonist
Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Times Colonist editorial said, "When the Big One hits ... It makes no sense for individual municipalities to work in isolation" (May 13).

Our Probus Club asked about this at an otherwise excellent presentation by North Saanich Emergency Preparedness.

We received the answer that disaster co-ordination is planned to be provided by the 13 mayors.

Better stockpile for a month, rather than the 72 hours recommended.

Aleck Trawick
Victoria


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