Up for a quick quiz? Do you know what this yellow sign means?
Many people who see these signs on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland believe they indicate evacuation routes during an emergency situation but this is NOT TRUE. The Disaster Response Route sign actually identifies roads that have been designated for the sole purpose of moving emergency supplies, equipment and personnel during an emergency. They’re not the way to go when you want to get the heck out of Dodge.
Designating Disaster Response Routes (DRR) means other roadways can be used for non-emergency traffic, commuting, or the unlikely event of an organized evacuation. Should an emergency like a chemical spill, fire or tsunami occur, DRRs will be activated if needed and the public will be advised of what routes are open to non-emergency traffic.
So, what is a Disaster Response Route?
Simply put, it is a network of pre-identified routes that are best suited to move emergency services and supplies where they are needed in response to a major disaster. DRRs may be activated following a declaration of a local or provincial state of emergency. They are activated only as needed to respond to an emergency or disaster situation and only for as long as needed
Why do we need Disaster Response Routes?
The purpose behind the DRR is to move quickly to where we need to be…and mobility is the key. Disaster response personnel and resources provide services such as: transporting and treating sick and injured people, maintaining law and order, putting out fires, rescuing trapped people, restoring water supply, restoring electricity supply, maintaining traffic control, etc.
These responders or suppliers have been issued approved placards identifying them and their vehicles, allowing for quick identification at checkpoints, and getting them to where they are needed the most.
Your awareness and cooperation is necessary to keep these routes clear following an earthquake or other disaster, in the interest of saving lives and protecting property. So, in the event of an emergency – stay calm, listen for updates and, unless you have prior approval as a disaster responder, please steer clear of DRRs.