Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC) has selected the City of Kamloops as a pilot location for the provincial Emergency Social Services (ESS) Modernization Project.
ESS provides short-term assistance to British Columbians who are forced to leave their homes because of fires, floods, earthquakes, or other emergencies. This assistance includes food, lodging, clothing, emotional support, and family reunification. In BC, local authorities are responsible for planning and operating emergency responses within their jurisdictional areas, including ESS.
EMBC is working to digitize and modernize the ESS program. With the City’s role in supporting evacuees during the 2017 and 2018 freshet and wildfire seasons, Kamloops was well positioned to be selected as a pilot community for the project. Modernization of the provincial ESS program will include improvements to the branding, legislation, policies, processes, and training as well as development of a digitized system for delivering ESS. Modernization of the ESS program will ensure evacuated individuals have efficient access to services and will enhance reporting and financial accountabilities.
Kamloops has a strong, well-trained ESS team in place that will pilot the new process and system. The Kamloops ESS team, all of whom are volunteers, will have the opportunity to provide direct feedback to the Province and will assist in creating a viable ESS program that will aid displaced British Columbians in the future. This opportunity will allow the City of Kamloops to continue to play a key role in the ESS community and will position Kamloops as a leader of change.
“The Kamloops ESS team provided exemplary assistance to approximately 11,000 evacuees during the 2017 wildfire season. EMBC collected feedback from Kamloops, as well as other hosting communities, and has been working on enhancements since then. We are excited to see a modernization of the system. Working with the Province to streamline the process for evacuees is critical,” said Dan Sutherland, the City’s Emergency Program Coordinator.