A provincial state of emergency was declared on July 7, 2017 due to the significant impacts that the wildfires are having in the interior and central BC. This state of emergency has been extended to September 15, 2017.
As of September 9, 2017, 162 fires are burning across the province with more than 4,700 people on evacuation order and nearly 11,000 on evacuation alert. Since April 1, 2017, there have been 1,246 fires in the province and over 1,176,000 hectares of land burned making this the worst wildfire season on record for BC.
In the wake of this provincial crisis, the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) agencies and programs, including Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC), BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), have been working tirelessly to support affected residents and communities.
BCEHS’ Patient Transfer Network and the BC Ambulance Service have been working around the clock with the Interior Health Patient Transfer Office and Northern Health to provide safe medical transportation and evacuation of patients, young and old, within and between hospitals and residential care facilities, as well as answering increased calls in Kamloops and Prince George as a result of the influx of evacuees. This coordinated effort has impacted patients and families from all over interior and northern BC – from Williams Lake to Ashcroft to 100 Mile House. And it’s not only front-line paramedics who are affected. For example, the BCEHS logistics has been working hard to source and transport supplies to fire zones and evacuation centres, including N95 safety masks, meals, and other equipment.
HEMBC staff who work in Interior Health and Northern Health are supporting the local health system’s response to the fires. Staff across HEMBC are also supporting the Ministry of Health’s Emergency Coordination Centre, which is responsible for overall health system response. The Disaster Psychosocial Program (DPS), operated by HEMBC, has deployed volunteers to Kamloops. The entire DPS network of volunteers remains on high alert and are anticipating the likelihood of being in affected areas for as long as needed.
BCCDC continues to work with Northern Health, Interior Health and the Ministry of Health on educating communities about wildfire smoke health effects and air quality. And the BC Cancer Agency, the BC Renal Agency, BC Transplant and BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services have been collaborating with Interior Health to ensure that those impacted by the fires can continue to receive appropriate care and treatment that they need.
For many people this is a very difficult time – PHSA’s thoughts are with the residents and those working to support the relief efforts in all impacted regions.
For the latest information on the wildfires, go to:
and Northern Health
have information posted on their websites for residents in those regions who are affected by the wildfire. If you know people who may have been evacuated, Interior Health has started a call line
to find out where loved ones have been re-located.
Check out these videos for more information on the health effects of wildfire smoke:
For further information on assistance and emotional support: