Tofino got swept up in a celebration of emergency preparation on Saturday.
The community rocked its fourth annual High Ground Hike and Emergency Preparedness Fair on April 27, mixing valuable education with family fun.
Residents began their day with a 10 a.m. walk from First Street Dock to the community hall, which is currently Tofino’s emergency evacuation centre. Inside the hall, kids had their faces painted by Paula Orser and received balloon animals from Adley ‘Sharky’ Bruneau while they and their families browsed through booths set up by a variety of organizations, including the Canadian Coast Guard, PreparedBC, Ocean Networks Canada and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Outside the hall, firefighters and paramedics gave tours of their vehicles and equipment.
“The whole point about today is to learn about what you need to do to have yourself, your family, your neighbourhood and our community prepared in the event of an emergency,” Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the fair’s impressive crowd as the event got underway. “We need to know how to take care of ourselves and take care of our neighbours and friends. So, meet some new people today…You never know, you might depend on them.”
Osborne told the Westerly News the event was an important opportunity to help residents prepare themselves.
“It is fun, but it’s serious at the same time too,” she said. “We’re learning real skills, getting excellent, accurate information and knowing how to take care of ourselves so that we can help others in the event of an emergency.”
Fire Chief Brent Baker said the annual fair has become a valuable blender of local knowledge as residents learn from various agencies as well as each other.
“It brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm and draws a lot of awareness,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to share and learn from everybody.”
Paul Nixon, the Officer in Charge at Tofino Lifeboat Station, agreed.
“It’s good to get together with the other agencies, it’s good to see the community and talk to them about emergency preparedness and it’s fun,” he said.
Cpl. Stu Hert of the Tofino RCMP said Tofitians must be able to take care of themselves if a disaster occurs.
“In a major emergency, help will come eventually, but people are going to have to rely on themselves in the initial stages,” he said.
The district’s Emergency Program Coordinator Keith Orchiston said being prepared could save residents from scrambling for information and supplies when an emergency is already underway.
“There’s a 30 per cent chance, in my lifetime, that I’ll be impacted by a tsunami by the Cascadia subduction zone here,” he said adding he had brought his five-year-old son to the fair. “In his lifetime, there’s an even greater chance that he’ll be impacted by a tsunami. So, I want to get him started early and I want to get him prepared and this is the perfect place to do it. It’s very family friendly, there’s lots going on and lots of great information.”
Rhino Coffee House offered free donuts to all High Ground Hike participants and a free lunch was provided at the fair by Red Can Gourmet.
Information about Tofino’s evacuation routes and what to pack in an emergency kit can be found here.