Communication is a critical pillar of emergency response. Not just communication between first responders themselves, but first responders and the public. When the Strathcona Regional District and Comox Valley Regional District conducted a joint wildfire evacuation exercise along the Oyster River in Area D this June the evacuation protocol followed the typical procedure of RCMP and Search and Rescue [SAR] personnel delivering evacuation notices by going door-to-door. The first responders would then place coloured flagging tape at the driveway entrance of each household that indicates the status of that household.
Let’s ponder the difficulties that this procedure would encounter on Cortes Island:
• RCMP and SAR personnel would be delayed reaching Cortes Island;
• Long driveways would mean more time is needed to reach each household; and
• Areas lacking cellular reception create greater difficulty getting a message out to the public.
In my opinion, this highlights the importance of the following programs on Cortes Island:
• Forming Neighborhood Emergency Programs to help each other out;
• Becoming well versed with FSR Radios;
• Obtaining your Amateur Radio Operator Certificate; and
• Signing up for SRD’s Connect Rocket mass notification system.
The Strathcona Regional District offers a free notification service to keep residents, visitors and businesses informed of emergencies in a timely manner. SRD's emergency notifications are delivered by both text message and voice calls to landlines and cell phones to subscribers.
If you know someone who wishes to receive notifications but does not have internet access, please sign-up for them or have them call the Strathcona Emergency Program at 250-830-6702 to get registration support. You can signup at: https://strathconard.connectrocket.com
The emergency program will also heavily utilize Twitter and Facebook in the event of an emergency.
If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns about emergency preparedness on Cortes please do not hesitate to contact me at 250-830-6702 or skoopmanstrathconard.ca