The City of Campbell River put up a sign on Dogwood Street Tuesday, March 24 at the Public Works yard to remind residents to continue social distancing and take other COVID-19 mitigation measures. (Alistair Taylor-Campbell River Mirror)

The City of Campbell River put up a sign on Dogwood Street Tuesday, March 24 at the Public Works yard to remind residents to continue social distancing and take other COVID-19 mitigation measures. (Alistair Taylor-Campbell River Mirror)

Inside Campbell River’s Emergency Operations Centre

Centre dictates how city responds to COVID-19

At the core of the City of Campbell River’s response to the COVID-19 crisis is a group working to keep things running and to answer any questions people may have.

An Emergency Operations Centre is typically set up to help coordinate various branches of emergency response. They usually are in place to respond to natural disasters like fires, floods or other damaging events that can cause chaos in communities. Usually, they involve fire departments, ambulance and police, as well as search and rescue and are involved in ensuring people can escape or shelter safely in these situations. They often run 24/7 until the crisis is abated.

This one is a little bit different.

“This is a very unique and, as people have said previously, unprecedented situation,” said City of Campbell River manager Deborah Sargent. “It is unique, but in terms of one of the most important roles of the EOC — coordinating — it is not unique because we have to coordinate all the resources that we have in hand to address the situation.”

The COVID-19 EOC was established on March 20, and was given three goals: to coordinate the city’s response to COVID-19, to identify and maintain critical services and to provide public information about the crisis. It is staffed by a group of city employees and managers who are working to maintain continuity and communications through the pandemic. The call centre was set up as a result of the EOC, but is run independently.

“Our role as a city EOC is to help our citizens understand the impact of the COVID-19 situation locally and to understand how it impacts services that they are familiar with receiving on a regular basis,” Sargent explained. “It’s also our role, because it’s such a unique situation, to determine as we look at business continuity, to also look at our own financial planning as a city in terms of how all of the projects and services that we normally provide will be impacted.”

EOCs are part of the B.C. Emergency Response Management System. They are put in place by various levels of government to help coordinate the response within individual jurisdictions. The city’s centre can coordinate with other neighbouring communities like the Strathcona Regional District, and it can help centres at higher levels like the provincial EOC. It helps provide a distinct message and goal to emergency response within the community, instead of a haphazard and confused response.

“If people are [usually] calling in typically to our many facilities across the city, now they’re calling in to a central call area and being provided information relevant to the facility that they would be normally speaking directly to,” she said. “It also allows us to coordinate amongst other local government, with the SRD, with the provincial government.”

Services include things like water, waste pickup building and planning and others. Part of the EOC’s mandate is to ensure the business of the city continues as well, which includes things like projects and services that it has committed to as part of its financial and strategic planning.

City employees are not immune to the COVID-19 virus, however, and the EOC has been working quickly to transition to a work-from-home environment. Operators are able to take calls from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Sargent said, and the hours of the EOC reflect that.

“It has been a learning process for all of us. The whole purpose to this was to mitigate the community spread, we’re very careful about ensuring that we follow all of the community health protocols,” she said.

“I think the challenges we are facing are the same as the ones our community faces. There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of how long our current situation will last and what will transpire within our community I think we’re all searching for the best information possible,” she added.

UPDATE MARCH, 2021: The call centre is no longer operational, any inquiries can be made to City Hall’s general number: 250-286-5700.

RELATED: Campbell River planning desk remains open

City of Campbell River continues to provide important services

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverCoronavirus

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Kandi Kehler has just over two weeks left in her rental, but doesn’t know where she is going to go next. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
12 days left: Campbell River family at end of lease with nowhere else to go

Biggest fear coming to life for Campbell River mom

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Campbell River shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

This year’s Grad Parade is being held on Saturday, June 26. Alistair Taylor Photo.
Cheer on parading grads June 26

Watch for — or take part in — Grad 2021 Car Cruise on Saturday, June 26

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read