Launch Emergency Support Services

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

On this page:

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 Field Guide (PDF, 4.5MB). 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. Online uses the Evacuee Registration & Assistance (ERA) tool creating a self-registration option. Paper includes in-person registration. Either option, requires a trained ESS responder will connect in with an evacuee to complete registrations, needs assessments and provide emergency supports on a case-by-case basis.


The Evacuee Registration and Assistance (ERA) tool was released in April 2020 to improve the registration process and delivery of ESS. 

No download or special software is required to use the online ERA tool. Visit the ERA on any electronic device with an internet connection (required).

ERA tool


Not all communities use ERA and there are times when technology fails, for these reasons, paper forms will always be available to deliver ESS.

Paper forms are carbon-layered forms that are ordered from Emergency Management BC.

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.



If you're being evacuated you can register on the ERA website when told to by your Indigenous or local government. Select 'Self-Register Now' on the website. BCeID is not required.



Local emergency programs must complete ERA training before their team can access the tool. There are two levels of access:

Users have access to information needed to:

  • Register evacuees
  • Complete a registration, and
  • Add referrals based on a needs assessment

Superusers are usually emergency support services team leaders. They have the same access as other users but can also:

  • Manage teams
  • Generate reports, and
  • Access training materials

Superusers have access only to information under the task number in their jurisdiction.

There are two ERA environments:

  1. The training environment is for practice. (The orange banner shows it's the training environment.)
  2. The live environment is for real events.

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 with agreements with an Indigenous or local government 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 should contact their EMBC 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.
  2. It must have an established ESS program with an ESS team.
  3. The ESS team must understand ESS delivery. All ESS team members must meet basic ESS training recommendations.

Step 2—Onboarding

ERA onboarding requests are currently on hold. Onboarding will resume in the Fall 2021. A community under evacuation alert or order may request onboarding support through their emergency operations centre.

Leadership that attended can self-manage their team by adding new users and delegating roles and responsibilities. The following must be understood for the successful adoption of the ERA tool within your local emergency program.

  1. Build your ERA team by completing in-house training sessions with team members; add new users as required. Leadership can assign or delegate roles and responsibilities.
  2. Inform your local suppliers about ERA and program updates. It's outlined in the ESS Supplier Letter (PDF).
  3. Evaluate technology requirements. Basic technical guidelines are provided, but local emergency programs are responsible for assessing their own needs for ESS delivery. Watch Community2Community (C2C) webinars for considerations and helpful tips.
  4. It's the responsibility of communities using ERA to tell evacuees to complete an online self-registration. Evacuees can be instructed to self-register online by including the ERA landing page URL ( on the evacuation alert or order bulletin.
  5. Always plan for power and connectivity disruptions during an emergency event by having paper-based forms available to your team.
  6. Inform members in your emergency program about ERA and add its use into plans and operational procedures.

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.