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.

 

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Thousands show for 40th GoodLife Marathon in downtown Victoria

New records, first-time runners, and stories of resilience

Mother of alleged hit-and-run victim hopes municipalities will work together to improve crosswalk

Young woman injured, dog killed when struck by driver on marked crosswalk at Foul Bay Road

Here comes the rain: Victoria can expect post Thanksgiving showers all week

Mild, rainy weather expected from Tuesday to Saturday

Opponents of Elizabeth May criticize her push to scrap temporary foreign worker program

May has proposed to scrap the federal program which supplies local business with temporary workers

Victoria woman uses loss to raise awareness of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

City of Victoria to recognize Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day Oct. 15

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Dog killed in alleged hit and run, Goodlife Marathon takes over city and more

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read