Fall 2013

Community Resiliency Study Delivers Eye-Opening Results

By Ryan Wainwright

How resilient is our community? What would happen if we did not receive outside assistance during a disaster? These were central questions we hoped to answer by participating in a joint Emergency Management BC (EMBC)/Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) community resiliency study in 2012-2013.

The Pemberton Valley community has four overlapping local authorities:

  • Squamish-Lillooet Regional District
  • Village of Pemberton
  • Lil’wat Nation
  • Pemberton Valley Dyking District

In the past, we have tried to coordinate our emergency management activities. We share a variety of hazards, including flooding, landslides, train derailments and forest fires, which activate approximately three emergency operations centres a year. Furthermore, our community only receives goods and services from one main route, BC Highway 99.

Experience has taught us that what affects one local authority affects us all, and we do a great job of coordinating our response activities.

DRDC brought in Serco Consulting to analyze our community’s resiliency by looking at our emergency management arrangements through a systems lens. They reviewed our critical infrastructure, emergency preparedness, and hazard data, and held two community consultation sessions that brought together first responders, business owners, and non-governmental organizations, along with local government and social services. For Pemberton Valley emergency managers, these sessions were eye-opening.

We learned that:

  • Local rural and First Nations populations believe they can comfortably sustain themselves for a prolonged period of time without outside assistance, while the urban population was less confident;
  • Only three days’ worth of food is commercially available at a time;
  • Stockpiles of medical supplies are not available;
  • The needs of our vulnerable populations during a disaster are unclear; and
  • Better procedures are required when coordinating and communicating our plans.

 “Participating in the resiliency study provided a valuable insight of how the communities view themselves during a disaster; as well as, a good overview from a systematic standpoint that has provided beneficial recommendations that can be incorporated in each organization’s emergency management program.”

- Bettina Falloon, Emergency Program Coordinator, Village of Pemberton.

Serco provided an illustrative overview of our community interdependencies and critical points of failure. Most useful were an Excel-based tool for analyzing dependencies and seven recommendations:

  • Create generic plans;
  • Develop a predetermined restoration priority guide;
  • Create a community resiliency team;
  • Develop community resiliency logs;
  • Develop a “vulnerable persons” log;
  • Provide fixed fallback generators in key locations; and
  • Maximize key resources located in the Valley.

The study was enormously valuable. It provided a snapshot of our current resiliency, and gave us a simple tool to analyze resiliency in the future. We have already begun to implement the recommendations. 

Most importantly, it defined an approach that helps small communities that struggle with limited emergency management resources in a hazardous landscape.

Ryan Wainwright is Emergency Program Manager for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

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Justice Institute of British Columbia Wins Triple Bronze for Interactive Media Production

By Dr. Greg Anderson and Dr. Ron Bowles

A Rural Disaster Resiliency Planning Community Toolkit developed by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) received triple bronze awards at the Horizon Interactive Awards, a competition that recognizes outstanding achievements among interactive media producers, and confers awards to the best web sites, videos, online advertising, print media, and mobile applications.

The 2012 competition received more than 1,000 entries from 25 countries. The winning entries, announced on April 15th 2013, include bronze awards for JIBC in three categories related to website production: Advocacy/Non-Profit; Government Agency; and Health/Human Services.

The toolkit was developed as part of the Rural Disaster Resiliency Project (RDRP), a multi-year, multi-million dollar project funded by the Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP) (originally funded by the CBRNE Research and Technology Initiative). Launched in 2008, the project strengthens the community disaster management and health system capabilities of rural, remote, and coastal communities through community based action research that informs and influences policy and practice. The Toolkit includes three online tools for assessment: a Rural Resiliency Index, a Hazard Resilience Index, and a Hazard Risk Assessment.

Content for the site was developed for the JIBC Office of Applied Research in partnership with the Emergency Management Division at JIBC, Royal Roads University, and Pearces 2 Consulting Corporation, under our direction as Co-Principal Investigators. The team members who adapted the content for the interactive RDRP toolkit were from the JIBC Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching unit, led by Dr. Tannis Morgan.

 “The RDRP project is an example of the importance of research and collaboration in advancing justice and public safety,” said Dr. Greg Anderson, Dean, Office of Applied Research and Graduate Studies at JIBC. “This world class interactive web tool enables rural, remote, and coastal communities to better understand their community’s unique risks and hazards. By planning and preparing for such events, they enhance their community’s resilience.”

The toolkit can be found online at: http://wp-rdrp-dev.jibc.ca/

Greg Anderson (PhD) is Dean of Applied Research and Graduate Studies with the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) and Ron Bowles (PhD) is Associate Dean of Applied Research, also with the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC).

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