Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Victoria BC – National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is a good time to remind people what to do, or not do, during an earthquake or tsunami warning.


Unless you have an immediate emergency, please do not call 911 asking if we’ve just had an earthquake. In 2015, BC’s South Coast was shaken by a 4.7 magnitude earthquake. Within seven minutes of the earthquake, we fielded 25 calls to our 911 line and 11 calls to our non-emergency line asking if there had just been an earthquake.  We saw much of the same in January when we were under a tsunami warning. In two and a half hours, we fielded 76 calls to our 911 line and over 200 non-emergency calls. As this was four times the number of calls we would normally answer during that time, three additional staff were called in to assist.


During emergencies, 911 call takers are working to help get immediate resources to people. Many people may feel frightened during an earthquake and the stress of a tsunami warning may prompt people to feel the need to call 911. However, it is imperative that these lines remain open for those who need an immediate response by police, fire or ambulance. 


As of April 6, emergency alerts in BC issued through the national Alert Ready program will now be sent to compatible wireless devices, such as smartphones, to ensure more people have the information they need to act quickly during a tsunami warning.  When alert notifications are received or information is required after a disaster, tune into your local radio station, or visit Emergency Info BC on Twitter for the most up to date information. Your local police department and fire department will have the most up to date information on their websites and social media feeds.


For more information on Vic-Alert visit:




To learn more about Emergency Management BC’s emergency plans, visit: