Emergency support services (ESS) volunteers

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

British Columbians forced from their homes by fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies may receive emergency support services (ESS) for up to 72 hours.

Under the Emergency Program Act, municipalities and regional districts are responsible for responding to emergencies in their areas, including coordinating emergency support services. They often depend on volunteers to coordinate these services.

What volunteers do

Volunteer responsibilities may include: 

  • Coordinating the provision of
    • Food, clothing and lodging
    • Emotional support
    • Pet care
    • Transportation
  • Identifying locations for reception centres and group lodging to house and feed people forced from their homes
  • Working with local businesses, service organizations and government agencies
  • Providing information about the crisis
  • Finding and coordinating other volunteers
  • Family reunification

How to join

The ESS Program relies on trained members of a community to meet the needs of people in an emergency. Each year about 5,000 British Columbians volunteer to support ESS. Your community needs your help to prepare for emergencies.

Volunteer resources

ESS volunteers have access to multiple resources in order to deliver the ESS program. Policies and guidelines, as well as forms can be accessed below.

Policies and guides

Some helpful guidance and essential policies for ESS volunteers.

Order paper forms

Forms are an important tool for the delivery of ESS. The Forms page has examples and instructions on how local teams can order forms.

Mobile support team

Mobile Support Teams are composed of experienced and highly trained ESS volunteers  who travel at short notice to communities that request assistance.