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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd October 2012
Minister of Justice
The B.C. government and the Canadian Red Cross Society today formalized a partnership to deploy disaster management infrastructure, equipment and personnel more quickly and effectively in response to a major catastrophic event or natural disaster.

Through this agreement - one of the first of its kind in Canada - Emergency Management BC, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development and the Canadian Red Cross will work together to provide collaborative planning, training and joint exercises that will enhance mutual emergency and disaster response capacity.

As well, government and the Red Cross will develop and implement a plan and framework to help ensure the continued timely and effective deployment of Emergency Response Units (ERUs) as temporary resources to assist British Columbia in times of a major or catastrophic disaster.

In Canada, first responders and emergency management organizations already work closely to provide life-saving activities in partnership with Red Cross. However, in a major catastrophic disaster like the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, local response efforts could be overwhelmed. This is when the Red Cross can pull together its extensive resources and expertise.

This agreement lays the foundation that could bring in national or international Red Cross ERUs if and when a major disaster hits British Columbia. ERUs are standardized, modular packages of trained personnel and equipment that are ready to be deployed to emergencies within 24 to 48 hours. They are fully self-sufficient for one month and can be deployed for up to four months.

The agreement also sets out priorities for both strategic and operational co-ordination, and will help ensure effective planning through risk management and integrated programming across agencies.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond is quoted as stating;

"The Red Cross is a beacon of hope for people when disaster strikes. Our government's ability to mitigate, respond and recover from the impacts of a disaster will be greatly enhanced with this agreement."

"Moving forward, British Columbia families can now feel even more confident that they will continue to receive world-class disaster and emergency response when their lives are threatened by any future disaster."

Canadian Red Cross Society BC and Yukon provincial director Kimberley Nemrava is quoted as stating;

"This agreement with government will help ensure we deploy our provincial, national and international resources as quickly as possible following a major catastrophic disaster to provide vital humanitarian assistance."

Quick Facts:

* The Canadian Red Cross Society is a non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to helping vulnerable communities in Canada and around the globe with a specific focus on health, disaster preparation and response, injury prevention and violence abuse prevention programming.

* ERUs contribute to the mitigation and response of major catastrophic disasters with local, national and international resources.

* Six types of ERU assets are available to support and augment British Columbia's response to a major disaster event:

o Logistics: manages the arrival, clearance, storage and distribution of relief items.

o Relief: supports the logistics ERU when large-scale relief distribution is required.

o IT and Telecommunications: establishes local communications networks and links to assist operational co-ordination.

o Water and Sanitation: provides treatment and distribution of potable water.

o Health: provides numerous types and levels of health services including surgical and injury treatment capacities.

o Base Camp: provides Red Cross staff and volunteers engaged in emergency operations with living facilities.

* All Red Cross programs and activities are guided by the fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

Learn More:

* For more on Emergency Preparedness and how to get ready for a disaster, visit: and

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* For more on Red Cross programs, services and preparedness tips,

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