The Langford, View Royal and Colwood fire departments are seeking funding to implement a mass emergency notification system that would allow local authorities to send out information via text message, phone call or email to local residents about disasters or other emergencies. (Black Press file photo)

West Shore municipalities eye mass notification system

System would send out info via text, email or phone call in an emergency

A number of municipalities on the West Shore are looking at implementing a mass notification system to help reduce confusion and chaos in the event of an emergency.

The Langford, View Royal and Colwood fire departments are seeking funding from their respective councils to purchase emergency response management systems (ERMS). The software will allow local authorities to send out information via text message, phone call or email to local residents about disasters or other emergencies.

“What if we had a wildfire, what if we had a flood? … We’re trying to be as consistent as possible so similar messages can be sent so there’s not mass confusion,” said Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey, noting the start-up costs for the system would be about $8,000.

“Not only can we notify all of Langford, we can notify neighbourhoods in Langford, we can notifying our members that would come in for our emergency operations centre, we can notify our emergency support service staff. We can do all that individually and give them different messages with one or two clicks of a button from our phones.”

RELATED: Should Greater Victoria have one alert system for everyone?

The call for a mass notification system comes nearly two months after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the Alaskan coast, prompting a tsunami warning for coastal areas of B.C.

While firefighters from several West Shore departments went door-to-door alerting those in low-lying areas who could be affected, many residents said they didn’t hear about the warning until the morning after.

Currently, areas in the Peninsula and Capital Regional District use ERMS. The City of Victoria uses Vic-Alert, which allows people to register their phone numbers and email addresses to receive warnings, updates and instructions in the case of a disaster. Metchosin also has its own program called One Call Now. However, the rest of the municipalities in the western communities do not have such a system.

That’s when a committee, including members from the Langford, View Royal and Colwood departments started researching the most effective software to help streamline information between municipalities. The system would allow departments, to notify the public in certain regions and specific neighbourhoods if they need to evacuate and where the closest evacuation centres are to help reduce mass confusion and panic for residents in areas that would not be affected.

RELATED: Colwood hosts emergency preparedness workshops

“We can isolate the area that we need to issue the warning to and the others don’t get it,” said Geoff Amy, emergency program co-ordinator with the City of Colwood. “We felt that having everybody notified of a tsunami warning only causes problems, it causes people to go up to Mount Doug or Mount Tolmie or the Malahat because they don’t recognize the hazard is for a specific area.”

In addition, the federal government announced it will be implementing a National Public Alerting System in April to help warn Canadians about dangers to life and property in a timely manner so they can take appropriate action.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Colwood Fire RescueLangford Fire RescueView Royal Fire Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

Most Read