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Are people in Campbell River ready for a disaster? Not really

Survey results show lack of emergency preparedness being done in many area households
Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror File Photo SRD protective services coordinator Shaun Koopman says some of the results of a recent community survey show we still have work to do in terms of emergency preparedness at a household level.

What ever happened to people doing fire drills?

That’s one of the many questions Shaun Koopman has after analyzing the results of a recent community survey looking at the preparedness levels of households in the region.

Koopman, protective services coordinator for the Strathcona Regional District, organized and circulated the survey for about a month – both in person and online. He says with almost 1,000 households responding, he has a pretty good idea where some of the gaps are in people’s preparedness levels.

Although Koopman says he “tried to go into this without any assumptions,” one of the things that caught him off guard, so to speak, was the lack of awareness about the vulnerability of the dam system as the result of a significant seismic event.

“In Campbellton, directly in the inundation zone, eight out of 10 homes are unaware of this situation,” Koopman says. “And as we get into the communities further away from Campbell River, it appears that knowledge about the vulnerability of the dam decreases even more, which is concerning,” Koopman says.

And it’s not that it’s irrelevant to those communities because they won’t be inundated with water if the structure fails.

“It may not affect them directly in that way,” Koopman says, “but it’s going to affect them in some way, shape or form. It’s going to affect our whole capacity to respond, for example. I mean, will it affect Quadra Island directly? No, but will it affect the ferry terminal that they rely on to get supplies back and forth? Absolutely it will.”

The other disappointing results revealed by the survey, Koopman says, were the low numbers in, “things that are free to do,” such as talking about emergency preparedness amongst friends and family members, having an emergency plan in the house, practicing fire evacuations as a household and having an out-of-province contact person.

Only 11 per cent of respondents in Campbell River said they have an emergency plan for their household. Only 12 per cent said they do fire drills.

And only five per cent have evaluated the ignition vulnerability of their property using the Firesmart checklist.

“That’s 95 per cent of households in the region who don’t know how vulnerable their house is in the event of a fire,” Koopman says. That’s not good, because your home’s Firesmart rating will play a huge role in its ability to withstand a fire event, Koopman says.

“In all of the case studies that were done after the Fort McMurray wildfire, 90 per cent of surviving homes fit within the low to moderate category,” Koopman says. “100 per cent of the surviving homes were rated low. And the same thing came out of the studies done in Kelowna in 2003.”

Koopman hopes to do the survey again “in a couple of years” to see if things improve. He thinks they will.

“One of the things a survey like this does is that just by filling it in, it makes people more aware,” Koopman says. “I mean, just by hte nature of answering ‘no’ to a question, it hopefully makes you want to turn it into a ‘yes.’”

Follow @strathconaep on Facebook for tips on how you can better prepare for an emergency or head over to the SRD Protective Services website at

And see an overview of the responses to the survey and how your neighbourhood is doing in terms of preparedness here.