Complacency is one of the biggest fights facing proponents of emergency response in the case of a natural disaster.
As the province learned during the recent Great Canadian Shake Out — a day of earthquake preparedness drills and awareness — most people are not prepared to fend for themselves for the recommended 72 hours after disaster strikes.
First responders say it takes an event — not unlike the weekend’s earthquake on the north coast — to spark at least some action. It also seems the province isn’t all that prepared to warn the public when a potential disaster does occur. There are reports that it took more than a half-an-hour for B.C. emergency officials to issue a tsunami warning following a magnitude 7.7 quake near Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) Saturday night. U.S. officials got the word out faster, and only then were communities on the islands and along the coast able to get into response mode.
On the plus side, it appears B.C. municipalities have taken disaster scenarios and rehearsals seriously and are prepared to take matters into their own hands. Many acted on the first alerts available, not waiting for the provincial bodies to act.
B.C.’s response to this quake will be reviewed over and over and people will learn what works and what doesn’t. Utmost in people’s minds must be how to better communicate an urgent notice, erring on the side of caution quickly, just in case, and coming up with means of reaching people who might not have access to the internet or even to power.
B.C. residents were lucky there was little earthquake damage and no significant tsunami — this time.Coa