Launch Emergency Support Services

How to launch an Emergency Support Services (ESS) program to provide short-term basic support to people impacted by disasters.

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Starting an ESS team

Those interested in setting up an ESS team must complete the following steps.

  1. First you must have an established local emergency plan or program in place within your community
  2. Start to establish an ESS program and team
    • This is a volunteer-based program where the management, recruitment, and size of an ESS team is at the discretion of the local emergency program
    • All ESS team members must meet basic ESS training recommendations
  3. Determine and plan for ESS delivery options

Program foundations

Starting a program begins with the reading the ESS Program Guide (PDF, 1.2MB). It describes how services are delivered, clarifies procedures and guidelines for Indigenous communities and local governments.

Emergency Program Coordinators and ESS Directors should keep a copy of the guide. Copies of the guide should also be kept at all reception centres and by Level One responders. The ESS Office will communicate amendments by email.

Vision statement

Emergency Support Services is a provincial program delivered by First Nations and Local Authorities. The program meets the basic needs of British Columbians impacted by disasters by providing short-term support in a compassionate manner.

ESS responder resources

ESS responder resources has manuals, guidance and forms, including:

  • Branding Guide
  • ESS logos
  • Reception centre manual
  • Group lodging operational guidelines

Delivery options

It is the discretion of the local emergency program to determine if online or paper registration is available at the time of the emergency event. Online used the Evacuee Registration & Assistance (ERA) tool with a self-registration option. Paper includes in-person registration with paper forms. Both options require a trained ESS responder to connect with an evacuee to complete registration and provide emergency supports on a case-by-case basis.


The Evacuee Registration & Assistance (ERA) tool supports the delivery of ESS through an online web-based platform.

Visit ERA on any electronic device that has an internet connection. No download or special software is required.

ERA tool


Communities who do not use ERA use paper forms. These paper forms will always be available in case of power and connectivity disruptions or outages during an emergency event. 

Ensure the latest version of the paper forms are being used.

Order paper forms

The Evacuee Registration and Assistance tool (ERA)

The ERA tool can be used by evacuees to self-register for support services, by responders to register evacuees and by suppliers to submit invoices.

Watch a video for more info on how the ERA tool works.



Evacuees impacted by an evacuation alert or order and have been instructed by your Indigenous or local government to self-register online using ERA, go to the ERA website and select “Self-Register Now”.



All responders using ERA must complete the required training before access is provided. There are four different access levels which can be assigned by local emergency program leadership.

  • Responders can complete registrations, needs assessments and provide emergency supports on a case-by-case basis.
  • Supervisors have the additional ability to access restricted files, basic reporting, and manage both supplier and user lists.
  • Director/Manager have the additional access to detailed reporting.
  • Local Emergency Program Administer is the primary contact for the organization and responsible for the initial setup and delegation of roles.

Team member or ESS responder

Responders can use ERA to support the delivery of emergency support services. Access and training are at the discretion of your local emergency program.

Ask your team’s leaders if your community has adopted it. If it has, ask them about training. If it hasn't, you must continue to use paper forms.

Support organization or contractor

If you deliver support services for a local emergency program, the program will decide if you can use ERA. Contact the program you're supporting to learn more.



Suppliers who have arrangements to provide emergency goods and services to evacuees during an emergency event can submit invoices and receipts online. Watch the tutorial to learn how.



Contact your local emergency program for information about the ERA tool.

Local emergency program leaders who need help can contact their Regional Office.

Email questions about modernization to


Onboarding the ERA tool

Indigenous and local governments can onboard the ERA tool as part of their ESS program service delivery.


Interested in using ERA?

If you're interested in using the ERA in your community you must complete the self-assessment before onboarding. For the self-assessment, see 'Step 1—Local Emergency Program self-assessment' immediately below.

We provide ESS paper forms as an alternative to the tool.


Step 1—Local emergency program self-assessment

Your community must meet these criteria to adopt ERA.

  1. It must have an established local emergency plan or program.
    • New to launching a Local Emergency Program? Contact your regional office for next steps.
  2. It must have an established ESS program with an ESS team.
    • This is a volunteer-based program where the management and size of an ESS team is at the discretion of the Local Emergency Program. Learn more about ESS service delivery through the ESS Field Guide (PDF, 4.38MB).
  3. The ESS team must understand ESS delivery. All ESS team members must meet basic ESS training recommendations.

Step 2—Onboarding

All communities currently using ERA1 need to reach out to if they have not yet completed their transition session with EMBC.

For communities who are interested in onboarding the Evacuee Registration and Assistance (ERA) Tool, please submit the completed Onboarding Form (PDF, 199KB) and you will be contacted by the ESS Modernization Project Team within three business days after submission

The following must be understood for the successful adoption of the ERA tool within your local emergency program.

  1. Inform team members: All members in your local emergency program must be informed about ERA. All plans and operational procedures must be updated to include the use of ERA.
  2. Inform suppliers: All local suppliers must be informed of the adoption of ERA. Review and send the ESS Supplier Letter (PDF) all active suppliers.
  3. Inform evacuees: All evacuees must be instructed to self-register online using the ERA tool during an emergency event. The ERA landing page URL ( can be included on the evacuation alert or bulletin.
  4. User lists: Assign and delegate roles and responsibilities. Update and add new users as required.
  5. Technology requirements: Basic technical guidelines are provided, but local emergency programs are responsible for assessing their own needs for ESS delivery.
  6. Outage planning: Always plan for power and connectivity disruptions or outages during an emergency event by having paper forms available to your teams.

These recommendations support the adoption and use of the ERA tool.

  1. Use the ERA training environment to practice. Reference resource materials are on the ERA dashboard.
  2. Share experiences and connect with other teams using ERA.
  3. Attend or watch the Commnuity2Community webinar series. 
  4. Stay up-to-date on ESS training.
  5. Subscribe to the ESS news page.