FAQs: Emergency Services

What do I do if an emergency event happens in my area?

Depending on the event, you should call one of the following phone numbers:

  • For fire, police, ambulance or oil and gas emergencies, dial 911. The dispatcher will then contact the appropriate agencies to assist you.
  • For a forest, brush or grass fire, contact the Ministry of Forests at 800-663-5555 or * 5555 from a cellular phone.
  • For other emergencies, such as train derailments, hazardous goods spills, plane crashes, flooding, etc., contact either the Provincial Emergency Program at 800-663-3456.
  • Encounters with aggressive, wild animals should be reported to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 800-663-WILD (9453).

What do I do if there is a noise, smell or spill related to oil and gas activity in my area?
If it is an emergency FIRST call 1-800-663-3456. This is the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre.

Will someone from the Peace River Regional District (PRRD) respond to the emergency and take appropriate action?
The PRRD program does not coordinate or facilitate the emergency response activities of firefighters, police, ambulance or other first responders. The program is designed to assist these agencies in responding to emergencies by coordinating additional resources, equipment and manpower once the incident commander either exhausts local resources or determines that the magnitude of the event requires additional resources. The PRRD will also become directly involved in liaison with other agencies, coordinating evacuations, providing emergency social services, releasing information to the media, and long term planning and logistics for large scale events.

How will the PRRD coordinate all of these activities?
The PRRD will activate the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) which is located in the main PRRD office in Dawson Creek. Using the BC Emergency Response Management System (BCERMS), staff will be brought into the EOC to coordinate key functions such as EOC Director, Liaison Officer, Public Information Officer, Operations, Planning, Logistics and Finance/Administration. Lines of communication will be maintained with the incident commander and resources will be allocated as required.

When the PRRD-EOC is activated, the Province will also activate the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre (PREOC) in Prince George to provide technical assistance and additional resources to the PRRD as required.

What type of emergency events could occur in the PRRD?
The Emergency Preparedness Program has carried out a hazard, risk and vulnerability analysis and has identified seven (7) main events that could occur in any given area of the PRRD. These events are:

  • Cold weather utility failures (power outages);
  • Floods caused by severe weather;
  • Forest/Interface fires;
  • Transportation of dangerous goods (TDG) spills or explosions;
  • Oil & Gas incidents (e.g., pipeline breaks, gas leaks);
  • Pandemic; and
  • Terrorism.

The PRRD Emergency Plan (2006) contains the protocols and procedures to be used by the EOC staff to provide support for these events.

When would an evacuation be ordered and by whom?
When rural residents are at risk due to fire, flood, or TDG (to name a few) an evacuation order could be ordered by:

  • The Board of Directors of the PRRD, after declaring a State of Local Emergency.
  • The Fire Commissioner, for either tactical or safety reasons or due to the threat of explosion.
  • The Ministry of Health or the local Health Authority.
  • The Province of BC, after declaring a Provincial State of Emergency.

How much advanced notice of an evacuation would I receive and do I have to leave my property?
An evacuation order may or may not be preceded by an evacuation alert, depending on the event and how much time is available to clear the affected area. It is preferable to first issue an alert so people can prepare, but this is not always possible. Once an evacuation has been ordered, you must leave your property as the order will be enforced by the R.C.M.P. To ensure personal and family emergency preparedness, check our Get Prepared page on our website.

What kind of assistance is available for people who have been evacuated?
There are two organizations that provide for the immediate needs of evacuees:

Emergency Social Services (ESS)

ESS is a provincial emergency response system that provides services to preserve the well being of people affected by an emergency or disaster. ESS volunteers play an important role during emergencies in the PRRD by:

  • Helping people to remain independent and self sufficient.
  • Helping people to meet their basic survival needs during a disaster (food, shelter, clothing, medical needs, etc.).
  • Reuniting families separated by disaster.
  • Providing people with accurate and up-to-date information about the situation at hand.
  • Helping people to re-establish themselves as quickly as possible after a disaster.
  • Helping a community work through the recovery process.

If you are interested in becoming an ESS volunteer in the Peace please see our ESS Page for more information.

More information regarding the ESS can be obtained on the website or by calling the Provincial Emergency Program, ESS Branch in Victoria at (250) 387-6446 or toll free in BC at (800) 585-9559.

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross, Disaster Services Branch, also plays a very important role in the PRRD Emergency Program by helping people affected by emergencies and disasters. The Red Cross works with governments and other humanitarian organizations (such as Emergency Social Services) to provide for people’s basic needs – food, clothing, shelter, first aid, emotional support and family reunification. During the recovery phase of disasters, Red Cross remains on the scene, helping those affected to rebuild their lives and communities. More information on the Canadian Red Cross and the disaster services they provide can be found at www.redcross.ca or by contacting their Prince George office at (250) 564-6566. The website also contains some excellent information on how families and individuals can ensure that they are personally prepared in the event of a disaster impacting their community.

Can I get involved as a volunteer?
The EMBC website reports that about 13,000 British Columbians volunteer their time and services in areas such as Emergency Social Services, Search and Rescue, Emergency Radio Communications, PEP Air Services and Road Rescue. These groups are always actively seeking and encouraging new members. For more information on emergency services volunteer opportunities click here.

Does the PRRD emergency preparedness program include search and rescue for lost persons?
No it does not. This area of emergency response remains with Emergency Management BC, the R.C.M.P. and local search and rescue groups. They have a proven track record of expertise in this area. The PRRD does, however, provide small grants to search and rescue teams for operations and training.

If you would like more information on our local SAR groups see our Volunteer Emergency Services page.