Emergency Social Services in Fernie

As legislated by the provincial government, Fernie has an active emergency social services (ESS) program.

As legislated by the provincial government, Fernie has an active emergency social services (ESS) program. The program is headed by Paul Wortley and is intended to help people in case of an evacuation.

There are two areas that Fernie’s ESS program focuses on: evacuee help and volunteer training. When helping people who have been evacuated from their homes, Wortley said the mandate is to provide assistance for up to three days.

“What we do is we offer up to 72 hours of basic needs for people that are evacuated for weather, fire, flood, those sorts of things,” said Wortley. “That is what the government has allotted because they figure once a person has been out of the house for 72 hours, they either have the ability to move back home or they have the ability to find accommodations or services elsewhere.”

Wortley added that ESS assistance can be extended and varies with each situation. A number of variables are analyzed when helping evacuees, such as time of year, weather and number of people needing help.

“Depending on the size of evacuation, it changes the size of accommodations offered. For a little one, two people, we are going to put them into a hotel. But if it was 500 people or so, then we would open up what is called a group lodging area in the centre. You are given a 40 square foot section, a cot, a pillow and a blanket. That’s what we are doing for the evacuees.”

The ESS team provides vouchers for food and incidentals to evacuees in lieu of money. This ensures that the evacuees are using the funds for necessities and not purchasing frivolous items.

“We didn’t give them money for food, we give them vouchers for food. They get the paperwork and then they take it to the grocery store and they are allowed $22.50 per day,” said Wortley. “While all of this is taken care of prior, I go to the store and have the contract. No cigarettes, no liquor but everything else is okay, and they fill out the paper work and send it off to the government for reimbursement.”

When it comes to training, Wortley provides his team of volunteers with a variety of training to help equip them for such emergency situations. The last training they received was on May 30, where they had a course in Personal Disaster Assistance or PDA. Wortley provides the training when he sees a need or he can find an appropriate instructor. Ideally, he said he would like to have a training session once a month.

When Wortley first started working with the City of Fernie on the ESS program two years ago, there was no set program for him to follow.

“One of my first things that I had to do was do up a plan because I had nothing when I started,” he said. “I was starting at ground zero.”

Now Wortley has written a 150-page program that covers a variety of topics, including pet care in the case of an emergency evacuation.

Wortley is always looking for new volunteers to help with the program. He can be contacted at essfernie@gmail.com. More information on the program is available at the City of Fernie’s website, Fernie.ca.

 

Just Posted

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Rumble In The Rockies brings live boxing back to Fernie

Local boxer, Dylan Mitchell takes first career win at home

Smiles all around as province announces emergency ward funding

$2.1 million to go to much-needed upgrades

As avalanche danger grows, BC heli-skiers exercise caution

Company relies on guides’ decades of experience

Lumby supports the vote for Fernie Hockeyville idea

Okanagan village that won the 2016 crown backs Saskatchewan call to vote for Fernie, B.C.

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Sentencing hearing begins for ex-BC Liberals employee in ‘quick wins’ scandal

Former communications director Brian Bonney pleaded guilty last October

Sunwing vacation passengers left at Abbotsford airport

YXX staffers receive praise for help to passengers; airline criticized

BC Liberal leadership candidate stops in Cranbrook

Andrew Wilkinson drums up local support as race enters final weeks.

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

Most Read