We developed this program in response to a need identified by the Ministry of Health.
The need was for BCCDC to anticipate and coordinate the provincial response to public health aspects of a major emergency that might affect several health authorities.
A major emergency is an event such as the outbreak of a communicable disease or development of an environmental hazard.
Outbreaks and emergencies happen suddenly and without warning, posing a threat to public health and safety.
An outbreak or emergency may be caused by:
- extreme weather conditions
- infectious diseases
- industrial accidents or spills Intentional acts
At the BCCDC, harmful events that threaten public health are planned for by the Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) service line.
PHEM works with the Ministry of Health Services, regional health authorities, as well ambulance, fire and law enforcement, to minimize casualties, contain the emergency or outbreak and to inform and advise the public.
To provide support to all regions for the planning and response to health emergencies and the public health aspects of natural disasters and other emergencies at a provincial level.
In an emergency or disaster, the health sector is expected to continue to function and deliver services, including: direct patient care and services, critical day-to-day functions, essential corporate-wide support services, services addressing public health and safety issues that arise from the situation during emergency response and recovery.
PHEM works within BCCDC and with partner agencies to provide expertise, coordination and support in response to public health emergencies and the public health aspects of natural disasters and other emergencies in British Columbia.
PHEM was established in 2007 in response to a memorandum of understanding between BC's Provincial Health Officer, the PHSA and the BCCDC. The MOU outlines specific expectations for the BCCDC in coordinating aspects of public health emergencies in BC, in support of the PHO and regional health authorities.
PHEM works closely with health partners including
To ensure that the public health perspective and expertise is factored into joint planning activities, PHEM also works closely with non-health partners, local and provincial governments, interdisciplinary councils and committees.
Key activities of PHEM include:
- Participating in regional and provincial emergency management initiatives
- Participating in multi-agency exercises to test plans and capabilities
- Providing leadership and advice on initiatives relating to public health and emergency management
- Undertaking necessary work to ensure the BCCDC is prepared to respond to public health emergencies and can sustain its operations to the highest possible level at all times