In the picturesque region of Kootenay Boundary, nestled amidst stunning landscapes and natural wonders, lies the importance of preparedness in the face of emergencies. From the charming communities of Nelson, Rossland, and Trail to the vast wilderness beyond, the region's beauty and tranquility can sometimes be overshadowed by potential hazards such as wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters. Therefore, it becomes imperative for both residents and professionals to embrace emergency preparedness as an integral part of their lives.
The Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice have prepared an Emergency Preparedness Toolkit that provides practical resources to help clinics take a proactive approach to plan and prepare for emergencies such as fire, flood, and internal threats that could impact operations. These resources also support the regular review of established emergency plans and include practice scenarios.
The best time to plan for a disaster is before it happens.
The Toolkit consists of an Emergency Preparedness Guidebook and accompanying Workbook that includes:
Emergency Management Guidebook for Clinics >
Emergency Management Workbook for Clinics >
Clinic Poster with Quick Links to these Resources >
Emergency preparedness is a fundamental aspect of community safety and resilience. The Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice, in close collaboration with local authorities and stakeholders, are actively working towards creating a culture of preparedness, equipping residents with life-saving skills, and ensuring that the region is well-prepared to face any adversity.
As residents of the Kootenay Boundary, it is our shared responsibility to embrace emergency preparedness as an integral part of our lives. By understanding the risks, staying informed, and actively participating in preparedness initiatives, we can all contribute to building a safer and stronger community that thrives in the face of challenges.
Patient-facing Emergency Preparedness Information
If your clinic is interested in information to share with your patients about how they can prepare for potential emergencies, including things your clinic can be doing to support patients, check out what KB Health Online Clinic shares with their patients: kbhealthonline.ca/extreme-weather-preparedness
Reflecting on it, after a thankfully cool and rainy spring in June, 2022, Dr. Merritt wrote this piece to his colleagues at Kootenay Lake Hospital:
"Last year at this time, we saw an unprecedented number of patients presenting symptoms of acute and subacute heat stress in the KLH emergency department. This trend was attributed to the heat dome that we experienced in Nelson during late June to early July. This high-pressure system trapped hot air in our atmosphere for several days, with temperatures remaining stagnant throughout the evening and nighttime hours. In years prior, temperatures would normally drop off overnight, providing more opportunity for people to cool down.
This unusual weather event presented challenges in emergency departments across the Kootenay Boundary. The effects of climate change and the accompanying impacts on community health proved to be unpredictable and unlike anything we had seen before. We had to quickly adapt to the high number of patients that required treatment for heat-related illnesses. In the event that we are faced with a similar event this year, I have included a list of helpful resources at the bottom of this article so that we can be better prepared to handle it.
The effects of the heat dome are particularly concerning for seniors and people who are living with mental illness and chronic illness. Medical frailty and social isolation can prevent people from seeking help and being able to cool themselves appropriately. According to the BC Coroners Service, 619 deaths were identified as heat-related between June 25 and July 1, 2021 and were comprised of mostly older adults with existing health concerns who lived alone. Ninety-eight percent of these deaths occurred indoors.
The Coroner’s report calls our attention to the number of people in our communities who are isolated and our need as a community to adapt to the extreme weather events we are seeing as a result of climate change. While it is important for us as physicians to address the effects of climate change in relation to health, I would also like to stress that these preventable deaths are a public concern. I hope that these statistics will open the door for more dialogue about heat-related deaths and illness to encourage our community to implement strategies that will keep our most vulnerable members safe during times of extreme heat."
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