Short of actually suffering an earthquake on our own doorstep, disaster awareness is likely as high as it could possibly be leading up to Vancouver Island Emergency Preparedness Conference (Apr. 15-17) to be held locally.
The event is the first scheduled at Sooke’s accommodation flagship – the new Prestige Hotel.
As many as 300 dedicated volunteers are expected to converge on the facility, getting together to learn new skills, hear from experts and establish and cultivate valuable contacts.
Absolutely everyone has a stake in emergency management and when the time comes, the more efficient and effective the measures are, obviously, the better.
Here is just a sampling of what will be covered at the conference:
• grab & go essentials plus acronyns 101
• response and recovery – the Duncan Flood
• Canine responders
• using social media
• partnering with media
• emergency radio communications, then and now.
Kirsten Brown, media spokesperson for VIEP responded to the following questions posed by the Sooke News Mirror.
SNM: How many years has the VIEP organization existed, and how much public interest do the conferences usually generate?
K.B.: The first VIEP Conference was held at the University of Victoria in 2004. This year will be the seventh VIEP Conference with conferences taking place in Campbell River (2005), Esquimalt (2006), Oceanside (2007), and Central Saanich (2008 and 2009). The conference took a year off in 2010.
The VIEP Conference is of great interest to volunteers and staff who work in emergency preparedness, response and recovery as well as interested members of the public. Our Friday evening networking sessions are free of charge and open to all interested parties and have typically been of most interest to the public. (Friday, April 15, 6-9 p.m. at the Prestige Hotel and Conference Centre).
SNM: Do you expect the recent disasters in New Zealand and Japan to boost public attendance at the conference?
KB: Disasters in the news, such as the recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, generate a wave of interest in emergency preparedness. They provide us with a stark reminder of the hazards that exist in our own communities as well as the need to be prepared. We do expect that the recent events will boost conference attendance. The conference is a great way for those who are interested in volunteering in the field of emergency preparedness to learn more about the field and local opportunities.
SNM: What sort of fee is involved?
KB: The conference offers a standard registration rate of $150. This includes all sessions, continental breakfasts, lunches and great opportunities for networking and learning more about emergency preparedness. The Friday evening networking reception is free of charge and we welcome interested public to come out and learn about emergency preparedness and what local emergency groups are up to.
SNM: Is there anything on the agenda you’re especially excited about… some sort of highlights?
KB: The Friday evening networking reception is always a highlight of the weekend. In addition, this year we are excited to welcome back some local canine search and rescue specialists for a rescue demonstration. We are also looking forward to hearing from two local emergency managers who spent time in New Zealand following the February 21 earthquake.
SNM: Other than conferences like the one coming up in Sooke, what are some of the ongoing functions of VIEP?
KB: The VIEP Conference Society was established in 2008 to support Island communities in hosting the conference and to ensure its ongoing success. While the annual conference is our primary function, we welcome ideas from Island communities, emergency volunteers and staff on how we can continue to promote emergency preparedness on Vancouver Island.
The Vancouver Island Emergency Preparedness Conference is sponsored by the District of Sooke, the Capital Region Emergency Awareness Network, the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Forces base – Esquimalt and Fortis BC.