In January 2018, an evacuation order was issued to the BC towns of Bella Coola and Bella Bella due to a tsunami warning. The evacuation process took longer than expected, but the communities coordinated to evacuate the population, including hospital patients. Although the evacuation order was lifted just a few hours later, the event identified the need for robust and accessible emergency supplies. Just 3 years later, the 2021 floods caused over $450 million dollars of damage in BC. The Fraser Valley was one of the hardest hit areas and the critical situation there reinforced the need for emergency supply containers for large organizations across the province.
These events and others spurred Squamish General Hospital into action. Having only one major route to their hospital, they knew it could be days before supply lines would be re-established if an earthquake, wildfire, or flood were to cut off access to Highway 99.
To support the hospital in case of a major disaster, Health Emergency Management British Columbia (HEMBC) worked with the hospital’s emergency management committee to develop a plan for an emergency supply container on site. The container would have to store a range of necessities including flashlights, bedding, and medical supplies along with three days of food and water for clerical and medical staff – something hospitals don’t typically provide but would be critical in an extended event if staff were required to stay overnight. “It was important to the site to have staff rations available which include one to two litres of water per person, per day,” said Christine Turenko, Health Emergency Management Specialist.
A Short Timeline
Isabel Wood from Total Prepare was then brought into the picture. The order needed to be placed before the fiscal year-end, creating a small window for the quote to be created. There was a list of specific items that needed to be sourced to meet the needs of the hospital. Several different distributors and manufacturers became involved.
Equipping an emergency container involves a lot of moving parts. First, there’s the container itself, which should have adequate ventilation and insulation to keep the container cool in the summer. This allows food stored inside to last for its full shelf life. It also makes the container more useful as a possible emergency shelter or command center, if the need should arise.
Supplies need to be curated from a long list of possibilities based on budget and the organization’s specific needs. In the case of Squamish General Hospital, they also organized a distribution point in Langley to organize the supplies before driving them up to Squamish and the waiting container. Many components were assembled at Total Prepare in Victoria, while others were shipped directly to the Langley distribution point for maximum efficiency.
A Team Effort
Building an emergency kit for an entire hospital presents unique challenges, requiring flexibility and teamwork for success. “There were a lot of moving pieces to coordinate,” says Christine Turenko, “I couldn’t have done this on my own and am grateful for such a strong team effort.” It was a group effort from the project managers at Squamish Hospital, HEMBC and Total Prepare, working together to complete this vital supply storage. Based on the Squamish Hospital project, HEMBC hopes for future containers to be made available in other rural and remote communities in B.C.
Planning for an organization?
If you are organizing an emergency kit, container, or program for any large group of people, Total Prepare can help. We have experience assisting all sizes of businesses, at all levels of government, and with organizations like universities, hospitals, and emergency managers. Whether you are working to equip a site with cabinet kits and supply containers, or preparing an EOC or reception center, our team wants to work with you to ensure you have everything you need. Give us a call at 778-265-5331 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.