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Health Emergency Management BC

Supporting B.C. health authorities with emergency management leadership

Health Emergency Management B.C. (HEMBC) is a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) which provides emergency management leadership and support to the B.C. health system, including all regional health authorities, PHSA and the Ministry of Health. At its core, HEMBC is working to create a more resilient health-care system that can effectively mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impacts of emergency events. HEMBC works with its partners to ensure the safety of patients and staff and the continuity of health services during emergencies.

HEMBC has three primary program areas:

  1. Health authority emergency management and fire safety support.
  2. Provincial psychosocial services such as the Mobile Response Team (MRT) and the Disaster Psychosocial Support (DPS) program.
  3. Provincial coordination and operations support for the activation of provincial response structures, multi-jurisdictional alignment and deploying emergency medical equipment, supplies and temporary facilities.

Educational resources 

By being prepared, health-care staff can respond more effectively to emergency events to keep patients safe and ensure the continuity of health services. Browse through the resources below and gain useful insights.

Emergency events

Extreme heat refers to periods of unusually high temperatures that can pose health risks. It can lead to heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Extreme heat events are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.

Watch the video below to learn how to stay safe during an extreme heat event.


Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, storms, and heavy rain, present a significant hazard associated with climate change. These events are increasing in British Columbia, leading to more frequent and intense occurrences.

Watch the video below to learn how to stay safe during an extreme weather event.


This topic addresses the risks and dangers associated with toxic drugs, such as illicit substances contaminated with harmful substances like fentanyl. The objective is to mitigate the harm caused by toxic drugs and promote harm reduction practices within the health-care community.

Watch the video below to learn more about overdose prevention and harm reduction.


Wildfires are natural disasters characterized by uncontrolled fires that rapidly spread across vegetation and forested areas. They can be caused by natural factors such as lightning or human activities like campfires or discarded cigarettes. Wildfires pose significant risks to lives, properties, and the environment.

Watch the video below to learn how to stay safe during a wildfire.

B.C. wildfires have had severe consequences for the people affected; with many communities experiencing ongoing mental, physical, social and economic impacts.

In partnership with provincial health system stakeholders, HEMBC has developed a BC Health System Wildfire Response Plan detailing roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the health system during wildfire response. It outlines the provincial health system's emergency response structure and the coordination processes and information required to support wildfire response across the health system.


For more information on wildfire health and safety please refer to the following websites:


Approximately 3,000 earthquakes are reported in British Columbia each year. Earthquakes occur due to tectonic plate movements, which create stress in the Earth's crust and upper mantle. While most go unnoticed, significant ones can have a profound impact. On average, earthquakes strong enough to cause structural damage occur once per decade.

Watch the video below to learn how to stay safe during an earthquake.


Floods are natural disasters characterized by water overflow onto typically dry land. They can occur due to heavy rainfall, snowmelt, or dam failures. Floods can cause extensive damage to properties, infrastructure and transportation corridors, and pose risks to human health and safety.

Watch the video below to learn how to stay safe during a flood.


Awareness days

Emergency Preparedness Week (May 713, 2023) encourages Canadians to be prepared to cope on their own for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency while rescue workers help those in urgent need. This special week is a national effort of provincial and territorial emergency management organizations and Public Safety Canada.

By taking a few simple steps, you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies – anytime, anywhere. It is important to:

  • Know the risks:  Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to our community and our region can help you better prepare.

  • Make a plan: It will help you and your family know what to do.

  • Get an emergency kit: During an emergency, we will all need some basic supplies. We may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours in an emergency.


The Great British Columbia ShakeOut, an annual earthquake preparedness drill, takes place Thursday, October 19th, 2023 at 10:19 am. At this time, people across the province will ‘drop, cover and hold on’ for two minutes; the time it takes for the shaking to stop during an earthquake.

Image result for shakeout bc

Located in an earthquake-prone region, B.C. experiences over one thousand minor earthquakes each year. As health care professionals, we need to be aware of the impact a major earthquake could have on the people we serve and the demand for health services. Preparing today can help with faster recovery and limit the devastating effects of major seismic activity.

If you are not engaged in a critical function involving direct patient care, at 10:20 a.m. drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk and hold on as if a real earthquake was occurring.

While taking cover, look around and imagine what would happen in a major earthquake. What would fall? What would be damaged? What steps can be taken to make your environment safer? Consider what to do after the shaking stops.

Visit for more resources to help you and your family prepare for all types of emergencies.


Additional resources

Doctors of BC – a voluntary association of 14,000 physicians, residents and medical students in British Columbia who are working towards promoting a social, economic, and political climate in which members can provide the citizens of B.C. with the highest standard of care while achieving maximum professional satisfaction and fair economic reward.   

Provincial Health Officer – the senior public health official for B.C. responsible for monitoring the health of the population of B.C. and providing independent advice to the ministers and public officials on public health issues.

BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) – provides health promotion and prevention services, analytical and policy support to government and health authorities, and diagnostic and treatment services to reduce communicable & chronic disease, preventable injury and environmental health risks.

SOURCE: Health Emergency Management BC ( )
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