Houston aims to improve emergency response

The district only has two emergency support services personnel

The District of Houston aims to increase its capacity to respond to emergency situations.

Houston council has recently authorized district staff to apply to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for a grant of up to $25,000.

If forthcoming, the grant will allow the district to create a temporary contract position to help with the recruitment and retention of emergency support services (ESS) personnel in Houston.

Volunteer ESS personnel provide shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on when disaster forces people out of their homes.

According to Houston’s chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck, currently the district only has two ESS personnel – one of which is the ESS director, who’s the district’s manager of leisure services.

Houston’s manager of leisure services is currently responsible for all aspects of the ESS function for the district, including recruitment of volunteers.

According to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), ESS volunteers are needed across the region. The RDBN has had to respond to emergency situations within municipal boundaries because of a lack of local capacity.

When asked why it’s so difficult to attract and retain ESS volunteers in rural areas such as Houston, Pinchbeck said that’s a question the district has also been trying to answer.

“We suspect that the volunteer nature of the position and time commitment to take the training is a major deterrent for most people,” he said. “Additionally, volunteerism across Canada has been declining, and that may be a factor affecting the recruitment of ESS personnel.”

Meanwhile the RDBN has been working with local governments to develop a joint approach to emergency response in the region.

READ MORE: Emergency response strategy moves forward

If the strategy is implemented, all ESS teams in the region would have similar procedures and training. As a result, the ESS teams would be interchangeable throughout the region, allowing for the rotation of ESS volunteers to respond to larger events.

However, Pinchbeck said it could still take some time before this strategy is implemented.

“This is a continuing point of discussion between district and RDBN staff, and has not been finalized by either party,” he said last week.

According to the RDBN, anyone with no criminal record and a desire to help their community can become an ESS volunteer. People with full-time jobs can also become volunteers, even if they cannot respond during work hours.

READ MORE: Emergency support services volunteers needed

There are no costs to the volunteers to attend training. Mileage costs incurred when volunteers are traveling to and from training are reimbursed. In addition, all ESS volunteers receive liability insurance coverage while on assignments.

For more information on how to become an ESS volunteer, contact the RDBN at 250-692-3195.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted


Houston residents took the time to rememeber on Nov. 11, 2018 (Simon… Continue reading

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

North Coast figure skater to star in Dancing On Ice

Carlotta Edwards learned to skate in Prince Rupert, before becoming a star with millions of viewers

Making poppies

Kindergarten students from Silverthorne Elementary School went to Cottonwood Manor to make… Continue reading

Still unclear whether closure of Silverthorne Elementary is a strong possibility

Houston residents invited to discuss school district facilities next week

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Most Read