Emergency Support Service Information

Emergency Support Services (ESS) help preserve the well-being of British Columbians during or immediately following an emergency.

The ESS program helps people affected by large emergencies, but may also assist during smaller emergencies such as house fires or disasters affecting a few members of a community.

When people are forced to evacuate their homes, the ESS program will often direct them to reception centres or group lodging facilities.

Reception Centres

A reception centre is a safe place where people can go to receive:

  • Information about the emergency;
  • Assistance meeting their basic needs, and
  • Help planning their recovery from the disaster.

Centres are often located in community centres, recreation centres, churches or schools.

ESS is offered for up to 72 hours but it can be available for longer, depending on the emergency and the length of an evacuation order.

Primary Services – Food, Clothing and Lodging

Reception centres provide evacuees with:

  • Meals if they are without food or food preparation facilities;
  • Clothing, blankets and toiletries;
  • Temporary lodging if they are unable to find lodging for themselves; and
  • Assistance finding and re-uniting with loved ones.

Specialized Services – Health Services, Child-minding and Transportation

Reception centres may provide specialized services, including:

  • Emotional support;
  • First aid and other health services;
  • Child minding;
  • Pet care; and
  • Transportation.

The services offered at reception centres vary depending on the type of emergency.

Group Lodging

Group lodging is a safe place where people can go to:

  • Sleep and eat;
  • Receive specialized care, including multicultural services and transportation; and
  • Health services such as first aid and emotional support.

Lodgings are often located in community centres, recreation centres, churches or schools, and could even be located in a tent depending on what is available in the community.

Whether or not group lodging is opened depends on many factors including the size of the emergency, the availability of commercial lodgings and the number of responders.