Disaster response team looking to grow

Volunteers needed for all areas of Saanich Emergency Program

Seven-year volunteer Dom Kapac

From his seat in Saanich’s radio control room, deputy emergency radio co-ordinator Dom Kapac can quickly bounce a radio call off the district’s repeater on top of Mount Douglas as far as Duncan.

The repeater is a key tool for the Saanich Emergency Program, as it allows the amateur radio network to reach as far as Duncan.

“It runs on batteries which is pretty important,” says Kapac, who works across the street in IT security for B.C. Assessment at Uptown. “In a time of disaster we have to anticipate most communications, Internet, will go down.”

Kapac started volunteering with the Emergency Radio Communications team in 2008, when he was recruited by a fellow amateur radio operator. He’s since become a key figure in Saanich’s disaster response plans. But more volunteers are needed, as the average life is about two to three years, said Saanich Fire’s emergency program officer, Capt. Brock Henson.

On Sept. 10, the Saanich Emergency Program is hosting a volunteer information session, and are seeking to add to the 111-strong team of volunteers in all three areas: ground search and rescue, emergency social services and radio communications.

“One volunteer has been there 31 years. We have volunteers who’ve been with us for a long time but we are always recruiting and, to be blunt, we can’t have too many volunteers, especially in emergency social services,” Henson said.

In 2010 Henson twice visited Christchurch, New Zealand, to learn and then work in the aftermath of that region’s two debilitating earthquakes. It struck him how similar Christchurch’s infrastructure is to Greater Victoria.

“No matter how much you prepare, a disaster is still a disaster. We can’t be ready for everything, we do the best with the resources we have,” Henson said.

So far there’s been four callouts for Saanich’s emergency social services in 2015, helping residents or families who were displaced by fire.

In general, ESS provides assistance to those displaced by major emergency (house fire) by providing temporary food and lodging. They’re also trained to work in SEP’s reception centres (which are at recreation centres) during a large emergency.

Radio operators are trained to set up and connect with disaster call centres at the local rec centres as well as deployed search and rescue teams.

There are enough volunteer opportunities to fit just about anyone as long as they’re 19 or older, Henson said.

The Sept. 10 volunteer info session is at Gordon Head Rec Centre at 7 p.m. for emergency social services and radio communications. For questions or to RSVP call  250-475-7140, or email sep@saanich.ca.





Just Posted

Bike sharing program rolls into Saanich

According to staff, U-Bicycle plans to make between 75 and 100 bicycles available in Saanich.

Two puppies snatched from East Sooke home

Anyone with information asked to contact Sooke RCMP

Saanich teen helps save three people from the Gorge

53-year-old male who was submerged is expected to recover

Moving Trans History Forward conference aimed at more than LGBTQ community

UVic’s Aaron Devor: “We’re all here to learn from each other”

Large fire destroys home on McClure Street in Victoria

Fire crews dispatched to the 1100-block shortly before noon Monday

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Mayor says it could take “years” to replace EDPA

Mayor Richard Atwell said it will take Saanich “years” to replace a… Continue reading

Murder charges upgraded for B.C. man accused of killing wife and daughters

Crown approved new information on Jacob Forman’s file

Janet Austin announced as B.C.’s new lieutenant governor

Austin has served as YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO since 2003

Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody on Gadhafi claims

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing

Hockey pioneer Kwong dies at 94

Vernon’s Larry Kwong was the first player to break NHL colour barrier in 1948

How Facebook likes could profile voters for manipulation

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, a data-analysis firm worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign

Uber suspends self-driving car tests after fatality

A woman walking outside a crosswalk in Phoenix was killed when she was hit by a self-driving car

Police divers to resume river search for missing Montreal boy

Police divers and a helicopter search the shores of the Riviere des Prairies for missing 10-year old boy Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Most Read