Disaster – it can strike anywhere, any time. It takes many forms, from earthquakes to floods, and can build over days and weeks or hit suddenly without warning.
BCEHS staff actively participates in emergency planning, mock disaster exercises and other joint training initiatives to make sure disaster preparedness and response capabilities are identified and deployed quickly and effectively when they are needed most.
Another way BCEHS works to ensure that staff is prepared to respond to and recover from major emergencies is through the office of Emergency Management.
Emergency Management provides provincial oversight and direction to BCEHS in the planning of responses to multi-casualty incidents (MCI) - those major emergency situations that involve multiple patients at one scene.
The team also provides guidance in hazard recognition and risk assessment by identifying and documenting the hazards that pose the greatest threat at the station, regional and provincial levels, and developing strategies to manage these risks.
In addition, Emergency Management staff provide direction and advice regarding major incident support, hazardous substance response, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) response.
Maintaining and improving the health of paramedics, first responders and patients who are exposed to hazardous substances is a key priority for BCEHS.
One of the ways this objective is being achieved is through the Technical Advisor Program, which provides current technical information to on-site supervisors and paramedics responding to Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) events.
Technical advisors are trained in CBRNE operations, hazardous materials awareness, explosives disposal procedures and emergency medical services best practices. Working closely with regional BCEHS dispatch operations centres, technical advisors gather and analyze vital on-scene information, such as patient symptoms, to determine the type of hazard that may be involved.
Based on this intelligence, a treatment plan for the suspected agent is developed and communicated to frontline staff, who for safety purposes remain off-site until the technical advisor, designated supervisor, or other qualified lead agency representative deems the scene safe, or an appropriate action plan is developed.
A solid first line of defence towards protecting personnel and first responders and health care facilities, the program has been very successful in reducing exposure and injury since its inception in 2006.