Volunteer for Emergency Support Services (ESS)

Residents who are forced from their homes by fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies often have to leave at the last minute, and sometimes require help with lodging, food, and, clothing during the early stages of an evacuation. Emergency Support Services (ESS) provide assistance for up to 72 hours after people have been displaced due to a disaster.

In the RDCK, ESS is a community based emergency service provided by the Canadian Red Cross, primarily staffed by community volunteers, and supported by the local government and Emergency Management BC. ESS provides care for people who have been displaced from their homes, or confined to their homes by disasters. 


  • Identify potential reception centers and group lodging sites
  • Recruit and train volunteers
  • Maintain resource contact lists
  • Work with local businesses, service organizations and government agencies
  • Plan for the essential needs of evacuees. This may include food, shelter, clothing, emotional support and family reunification.
  • Support other emergency responders such as Search and Rescue


During an evacuation evacuees may be requested to register at a local ESS Reception Centre. ESS volunteers staff the centre and provide services such as information, food, shelter, clothing, emotional support, and family reunification. 


Anyone may have to evacuate their home for any number of reasons. Make sure you have a plan. Know where you’ll go and how to contact your family members. Have a Grab-and- go bag packed for each family member and pets. For more information on what goes in a Grab-and-go bag and personal preparedness go to: gov.bc.ca/PreparedBC.


The Canadian Red Cross is looking for ESS volunteers who:

  • Have compassion for people affected by disaster
  • Have good communication skills
  • Are able to respond on short notice
  • Are flexible and work well as part of a team
  • Have a sense of adventure
  • Have good organizational skills


ESS training is offered through the Canadian Red Cross and the Justice Institute of BC


Volunteers form the backbone of ESS. You’ll meet and train with interesting people, and  be part of an organization that makes a difference

ESS volunteers receive Work Safe and liability insurance while on assignment


To volunteer to be an ESS member contact the RDCK Emergency Program Coordinator who will put you in touch with your closest Canadian Red Cross local Team Leader.

The content on this page was last updated August 31 2018 at 3:58 PM