Fires, Floods and Heat Domes: The Role of Environmental Health Professionals in Emergency Management
First Nations Health Authority
2021 saw some of the worst environmental emergencies in B.C.’s history: a record-setting heat dome led to significant morbidity and mortality in the province and kicked off one of the worst wildfire seasons of all time with dozens of communities evacuated and an entire village burnt to the ground. With individuals still evacuated from wildfires, an atmospheric river event hit the province in November, wiping away homes, barns, animals, and major infrastructure.
As of May, 2022, some people are still out of their homes from both environmental emergencies, and rebuilding will take years.
This presentation will use the events of 2021 as a case study on how environmental public health professionals are, and can be, involved in emergency management activities. Using real-world examples from the work of the First Nations Health Authority’s Environmental Public Health Team, this presentation will outline how the skills, knowledge, and unique perspective of CPHI(C)s can be beneficial to communities in crisis. With a changing climate guaranteeing more, and more severe, events like these in the future, environmental health professionals have a unique opportunity to shape public health responses to build more resilient communities.