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Earthquake near Tsawwassen scenario to test Delta's response

Delta’s Emergency Operations Centre staff roles and responsibilities will be evaluated
Fire Chief Guy McKintuck says CR23 presents an excellent opportunity for Delta to test a range of emergency response processes and protocols.

Just how well will the City of Delta and its emergency personnel respond if a big earthquake hits the area?

That’s what officials will find out as a two-day exercise is scheduled commence Feb. 7 with simulated alerts of a 6.8-magnitude earthquake centered 12 km northwest of Tsawwassen.   

It’s part of Delta's involvement in Exercise Coastal Response 2023 (CR23), a provincially-driven emergency exercise.

The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) is the provincial authority responsible for leading the management of provincial level emergencies and disasters and supporting other authorities within their jurisdictions.

A report to city council by Fire Chief Guy McKintuck notes a priority of EMCR is the development of a comprehensive provincial earthquake plan, the first component of which is the BC Earthquake Immediate Response Plan.

The plan sets out the conditions for subsequent planning efforts, including sustained response and recovery.

The province is planning a functional emergency exercise (CR23) to practice the integrated response of government and partners for a catastrophic earthquake, following the principles and procedures laid out in the B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan and focusing on a disaster scenario involving a major local earthquake, the report explains.

“CR23 will involve responsible agencies at all government levels in the Greater Vancouver area, including First Nations, federal, provincial and local governments. Delta's Emergency Management Office has been participating in inter-agency coordination calls and table top exercises over the last two years to prepare for CR23,” the report notes.

The CR23 is an excellent opportunity for Delta to test its Municipal Emergency Plan and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Activation Plan, according to the report, adding that the first component of the exercise involves a damage assessment.

That assessment includes a “windshield survey” taken as soon as possible after an earthquake, and involves driving predefined routes to assess the state of critical infrastructure.

Among other things, the exercise will also be an opportunity to test volunteer capacity regarding communications and virtual responses platforms and provide volunteer training through a mock reception centre.

“Delta has previously tested elements of its emergency response procedures during Exercise Ground Truth in North Delta in 2017 and Exercise Ground Truth Tsawwassen in 2018. CR23 provides an opportunity to exercise all components of the Damage Assessment Process in the Ladner, East Delta and Tilbury areas,” the report adds.

As part of the exercise, all telecommunication and power will be deemed unavailable. Delta will initiate the exercise by using the internal Emergency Alerting System to notify mayor and council, senior management and selected staff from Delta Fire and Emergency Services, Delta Police, Engineering Operations and Property Use and Compliance

CR23 will build on the previous Exercise Coastal Response 2016, an earthquake response exercise that was held on the west coast of Vancouver Island.