Emergency Social Services
Emergency Social Services (ESS) is a volunteer-based, community emergency response program that provides for the short-term needs of evacuees and response workers in the event of a disaster or emergency. Generally, these short-term (up to 72 hours) services are required to preserve the emotional and physical well-being of evacuees and are typically provided in a Reception Centre.
Role of ESS in a Disaster
British Columbia’s ESS teams play an important role in community and regional disaster and emergency response by:
ESS teams in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) work with local residents, agencies and businesses to prepare for disasters (both small- and large-scale) and provide essential needs of people affected by those disasters. Volunteers are the heart of the ACRD Emergency Program success. By volunteering, ESS teams have the opportunity to give back to the community during a disaster response by assisting evacuees.
ESS Reception Centres
When people are forced to evacuate their homes temporarily or their homes are destroyed, they may require assistance with essential services to maintain life and health. A Reception Centre is opened and operated by trained ESS volunteers in order to provide a safe place where evacuees from an affected area can gather to register, get information and receive assistance.
Prior to any Reception Centre opening to the public, ESS volunteers will undertake an evaluation of the building to ensure it can be safely occupied and used as intended. If the building cannot be used, an alternate location will be determined and this information will be posted at the Reception Centre and through the media.
Currently, the following are designated Reception Centres in the ACRD:
During a disaster, tune your battery-operated radio to the local radio station to find out when and where Reception Centres have been activated. To find out what other supplies you should have on hand for disaster and emergencies, visit the Developing a Family Disaster Plan section of this website.
Services Provided by ESS
ESS provides temporary primary services such as:
ESS may also provide specialized services such as:
When is ESS Provided?
The ESS Plan is an important part of the overall community and regional Emergency Plans. During a disaster response, part of or the entire ESS Plan can be activated under the direction of the community or Regional Emergency Coordinator or the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Director. Whether or not a Reception Centre will be opened is dependent upon many factors including the:
“Heart of Disaster Response” Volunteers
Most communities in British Columbia have an ESS team that works with community and regional businesses willing to provide their resources in times of disaster. Planning for disaster and emergency response requires time, energy, creativity and depends on the commitment and dedication of the ESS volunteers.
ACRD ESS volunteers are always needed and welcomed. Disaster work offers a unique opportunity to help others when help is needed most. Working in this field challenges volunteers to stretch their own limits and potential. The ESS teams in the ACRD are always looking for volunteers who:
No specific skills are required to become an ESS volunteer. However, skills such as volunteer management, interviewing, supervisory and second languages are great assets.
Rewards of Volunteering with ESS
Teamwork: You are part of a team that provides shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on when disaster forces people from their home.
Training: Offered through the Justice Institute of British Columbia and partner agencies, training includes:
Protection: All ESS volunteers receive Workers Compensation Board and liability insurance coverage while on assignment.Contact email@example.com to become an ESS volunteer