Houston’s emergency response plan guides district staff in leading a response to most emergencies, including floods, wildfires, earthquakes and pandemics. (Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue photo)

Houston’s emergency response plan guides district staff in leading a response to most emergencies, including floods, wildfires, earthquakes and pandemics. (Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue photo)

Houston seeks funding to determine emergency response capacity

The exercise would address deficiencies in training or equipment

The District of Houston is hoping to determine its Emergency Operations Centre’s (EOC) capacity and address any deficiencies in either training or equipment.

Houston council has recently authorized the district to submit an application to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund in the amount of $25,000 to proceed with this program.

The program would be done with an initial EOC activation exercise to tests staff’s ability to activate an EOC, and would require a facilitator to be retained, requiring one day of staff time.

The facilitator would then provide a debriefing report – listing what happened, what worked and what needs improvement. Based on this report, further training and equipment would be sought out, sourced from within the district’s base budge and partial funding from this program.

The district would then engage that same facilitator to retest staff’s capacity in the fall of this year to assess their progress.

If approved, the funding will cover 100 per cent of eligible project costs of up to $25,000.

Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer, estimates the district will require the full $25,000 for this program. This is based on an estimated $8000-$10,000 in costs for the facilitator, and any remaining funding being used to provide training and procure necessary equipment for the EOC.

“This would be the most strategic use of the funding,” Pinchbeck says in a council report.

The EOC is a physical location where representatives come together during an emergency to coordinate response and recovery actions and resources, support emergency response personnel in the field, and coordinate all official communications regarding the emergency.

Houston’s emergency response plan designates two physical locations as potential EOCs. The location is determined based on the type of emergency the district is responding to. The emergency response plan guides district staff in leading a response to most emergencies, including floods, wildfires, earthquakes and pandemics. All District of Houston senior staff would be involved in operating the EOC.

Under the Emergency Program Act, municipalities, First Nation communities and regional districts are responsible for responding to emergencies in their area.

The Community Emergency Preparedness Fund is a suit of funding programs intended to enhance the resiliency of local governments and their residents in responding to emergencies. Funding is provided by the provincial government and is administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities. Ongoing operational costs are not eligible for this funding.