In December 2015, the US Geological Survey measured a 4.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. As a result of the earthquake, two of Metro Vancouver’s transit lines were shut down for 90 minutes. This recent shake, which caused no damage, is a reminder that organizations must be prepared when the unexpected occurs. When an incident cripples transportation routes, how will your personnel or key supplies get from A to B?

This second article in our blog series — The Significance of Transportation in Emergency Management: Pipeline, Rail, Road and Marine — examines the key elements you need to prepare for when disaster strikes:

Evacuation Routes 

A pre-identified escape route — evacuation routes will lead you and your personnel out of the area of risk, directly to a specified area of refuge. Understanding the need to evacuate and what routes are available is key and will be communicated by local government. 

Source:  Ashley Trevelyan

Be prepared by knowing the evacuation stages:

Stage 1 – Evacuation alert
Stage 2 – Evacuation order
Stage 3 – Evacuation rescind

Make sure you have multiple mechanisms within your business — beyond the internet (radio, television) — to ensure you are able to receive broadcast alerts and instructions.

Disaster Response Routes

A Disaster Response Route (DRR), also known as emergency transportation routes, is a pre-identified road, rail or marine transportation route that can best move emergency services and supplies to where they are needed most. DRRs are crucial and allow the accelerated movement of emergency services and supplies across the affected region. DRRs are often major corridors, clearly marked with road signs, but can easily be mistaken by the public as evacuation routes. The public, as well as non-critical supply movement on rail and marine, will be prevented access to these transportation routes when DRR is declared.

Source:  TranBC

Source: TranBC

Are you confident that you are doing everything in your power to prepare for and mitigate the impact to your business? Here are some helpful hints to remember:

Be prepared to get from A to B

  • Assess the impact.
    • How do the restrictions that come with the opening of a DRR or evacuation route impact the movement of your business resources — people and supplies?
  • Make a plan.
    • If you need to get from one place to the next, plan alternate routes in advance, to avoid DRR’s.
    • Consult with your local government’s emergency management program to understand how businesses and organizations will be alerted of an evacuation and changes to transportation routes. Remember to include a process for maintaining situational awareness in your business continuity plan.
  • Determine contingencies.
    • Obtain emergency preparedness kits and keep them up to date. Have enough supplies, food and water rations, basic toiletries and a first aid kit — to meet the needs of your staff should they have to take shelter in the office.  Remind staff to construct personal emergency kits with items including robust shoes, outerwear, medications and any other “must-haves” they require to get through a couple of days. 
    • Connect with neighbouring businesses and build a community plan. Sharing of resources and supporting one another is an economical way to improve preparedness. 
  • Involve your employees.
    • Ensure they are aware of the existence and location of emergency preparedness kits. Encourage your teams to plan alternate routes in advance so they can get to work and return home, safely.
  • Be resourceful.
    • As per our blog Emergency Management Matters, being able to move supplies will be limited if DRR and evacuation routes have been established. Prepare alternatives to deliver services and products to your clients — perhaps a bicycle needs to be in your emergency supply kit!

By enhancing your knowledge of emergency lingo; preparing the office to shelter your staff, and determining alternative strategies, you can ensure that your business and employees are better prepared when a disaster strikes. If you’re uncertain about how to include alternative routes to your organization’s emergency plans, we can help! Contact us here.

North Shore Emergency Management
Emergency Management BC
Integrated Partnership for Regional Emergency Management in Metro Vancouver