KAMLOOPS — Following the support given to 2017 wildfire and 2018 freshet evacuees, Kamloops has been picked to try out the province's Emergency Social Services Modernization Pilot Project.
Emergency Management B.C is working to digitize their programs, which will speed up work with evacuees during future disaster response efforts.
City of Kamloops Social and Community Development Supervisor Natalie Serl says ESS has always done paper-based forms for people who have been evacuated, and this pilot project will test out whether a digital method is more efficient.
"It's coming now because we have had such significant evacuations in seasons both with wildfires and freshet," She explains, "We've been relying on a tried-and-true paper based form in the past, but with the significant events that we've experienced, there's a lot of feedback from our community and others about a different way that it could be done. So we're giving it a try this weekend."
The help provided by Emergency Management BC (EMBC) in emergency situatons includes food, lodging, clothing, emotional support, and family reunification for evacuees.
In BC, local authorities are responsible for planning and operating emergency responses within their own jurisdictional areas, including ESS.
This weekend, ESS teams will come to Kamloops with a variety of computers, laptops, and printers to practice using the technology in mock-up situations.
"We have a big team of ESS members," Serl says, "It's approximately 70 volunteers, so that's going to be some really valuable training and input gathered from them."
The modernization of the provincial ESS program won't just see evacuee response measures improved, it will also feature improvements to the branding, legislation, policies, processes, and training.
After the pilot project wraps up, Serl says they aren't entirely sure whether the program will be permanently implemented for emergencies.
"Right now we're just really grateful for this opportunity that the province is leading the way with our community and EMBC to give this a try."
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