Emergency Support Services (ESS)

Emergency Support Services is British Columbia’s province-wide community-based emergency response program. Emergency social services are the basic services people need after their community is affected by an emergency or disaster. This may include food, shelter and public information.

Frequently Asked Questions

As an integral part of the SCRD Emergency Program, ESS can:

  • Help people to meet their basic needs during a disaster
  • Provide people with accurate and up-to-date information about the situation at hand
  • Help people to re-establish themselves as quickly as possible after a disaster.

Primary services include food, lodging, clothing, and family reunification. The Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the SPCA, Amateur Radio Emergency Services and many other volunteer organizations work together with ESS to provide disaster assistance services.

  • Citizens of BC who have been displaced from their residence by a disaster or emergency.
  • Travelers stranded as a result of the disaster.
  • Response workers on assignment during a disaster or emergency.

ESS is provided for incidents ranging from a single-family house fire to calamities involving mass evacuation. Examples of events involving ESS include:

  • Floods
  • Fires
  • Earthquakes
  • Blizzards
  • Landslides

ESS teams assist evacuees at designated emergency reception centers. ESS teams may also provide:

  • Group lodging (shelter and food) to evacuees during a major event.
  • On-site support services for emergency response workers and others affected by disaster.
  • On-site personal disaster assistance for small-scale incidents affecting one to two residences.

ESS is typically available for 72 hours immediately following the start of an emergency. Assistance may be extended, in exceptional circumstances, on a case-by-case basis. This interim relief allows people to immediately plan their next steps by contacting:

  • Family and friends 
  • Local non-profit agencies
  • Insurance agents (if relevant) 

Volunteering for ESS takes dedication, you must be willing to receive calls to assist 24 hours per day,  have access to reliable transportation, complete a criminal records check, attend monthly meetings and participate in training. If you are interested in volunteering, ESS can offer free accredited training from the Justice Institute of British Columbia, practical training and much more!

If this program is a good fit for you, please contact the Sunshine Coast Emergency Program by emailing ess@scrd.ca or calling 604-885-6887 to learn about the application process.