Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

LEARN7 ~ Emergency Evacuation for an Isolated Community

UPDATE 20100515:

This was a draft I was working on to prepare for an Evokation, I'm tagging it with Learn7 to keep it for next year and will talk to my local Emergency Response team about the idea and how best to refresh everyone's memory about what they're to do and where to go in an emergency here.


UPDATE 20100514:

I realized as much as I want to, I have come to terms with the fact I will not be available to work on this during the timeframe posted, so I am withdrawing this draft I posted for comments.

I do believe we should have at least a national signal sequence for Red Yellow Green status.

I couldn't find that one existed anywhere so I think it's a good idea that is needed perhaps I can work on it next Season with a team.




May 13 2010 (Still trying to figure out the formatting issue, it looks fine in preview)

My Evokation has potential to increase the resilience and better prepare isolated communities for an emergency everywhere in the world.

What if there was a emergency and a small isolated community needed to be evacuated quickly but phone lines and power were out? What if they didn't get evacuated because they didn't know there was a need to? What if there was a spare vehicle or boat but they were left behind?

In early times, communities used a signal of beating drums, a gong or a town bell to signal danger. Runners or riders on a donkey or horse would spread the word.

In London, England during the World War II, everyone knew what to do when they heard the air raid siren.

Today, if these communities are the same as mine, I imagine they use door-to-door personal contact, phone, email, text message or even head to the coffee shop or local gathering place to see what's up.

There is an international "SOS" signal for a mayday signal or call for help, but not for the "Red Yellow Green" status commonly used to identify a threat, such as terrorism or fire hazard.

My Evokation will address three issues that will impact an isolated community in an emergency:

  1. A emergency evacuation signal system does not exist.
  2. Communities are not trained or prepared for an evacuation.
  3. Communities may not be able to rely on government evacuation assistance or transportation depending on the nature and scale of the emergency.
  1. Design a Emergency Signal Sequence (i.e. Red Yellow Green blasts) similar to the international SOS signal.
  2. Develop and implement a cost effective, self-sufficient, wireless and remote-controlled signal device (i.e. air horn) that suit any weather condition (hot/cold/wet/dry) and does not interfere with emergency services (police, ambulance, fire) sirens or marine navigation air horn signals.
  3. Develop and deliver training content and awareness material such as pamphlets.
  4. Specific to an island communty, Create a Role for 'Designated Boater' and incorporate into emergency procedures.
  5. Specific to land communities, Create a Role for 'Designated Transport' and incorporate into emergency procedures.

To develop a globally accepted Emergency Signal Sequence for the codes "Red Yellow Green" for broadcasting in the event of an emergency which requires evacuation. This will be adopted as a world standard for emergency notification, similar to the "SOS" sequence which is an international call for help.

To develop a cost-effective Broadcast Device suitable for international use to be installed in isolated or remote villages, towns or islands where they depend on word-of-mouth to warn of a pending emergency for which they must evacuate such as: a wildfire; an earthquake; terrorism; a tsunami; or a pandemic outbreak.

To develop training and education content for the local communities so they understand what to do and where to go when the Emergency Signal is broadcast.


Thank you to Urgent Evoke for providing the training and inspiration to become a beginner social innovator.

It was through my participation that I dreamed and pondered what my community needed to become more resilient and could be of benefit to a global audience.

It was because of what I learned that I was able to apply a new awareness to issues that, to my knowledge, all small and isolated communities face including small island residents.

I will use my community as a test case to pilot and streamline the implementation process if my Evokation and all components are possible. The issues we face are common to isolated communities in any country.

My first $1000 will be for a feasibility study to confirm my vision is possible. This is a long-term project with much to be developed and sorted. It is the beginning step of a long journey.

My chosen mentor is someone who is committed to inspire, challenge and teach me, I have no preference.


I live on a small island of about 3,000 residents where the potential threats of wildfires, earthquakes and influenza outbreaks are all very possible.

We are entering what is predicted to be one of the worst fire hazard seasons ever, surpassing the 2009 record. Last year we had people who were infected by the H1N1 virus. We are in the earthquake default zone. We are situated between British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island where there is potential for a tsunami to flood the straits.

We haven't had an emergency that has required island evacuation. A sample of new and long-time residents indicated they aren't prepared and don't know what to do or where their designated emergency facility is.

We depend on a ferry or an after-hour privately-ownded water taxi company to get us to the mainland (Vancouver Island) where the hospital is located.

We have a high number of transient residents: cottagers, hotel guests; day visitors; campers; and drive-through Cortez Island ferry passengers who take our ferry to Vancouver Island.

We have an active Emergency Response team of Government officials, Health, Police, Fire and volunteers who have been working hard to set plans for fire hazard and lengthy power outages.

Most residents and businesses are prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours as power outages are an often occurrence during our winter storm season. Our community centre and local resorts with large generators and space have volunteered their premises as emergency housing facilities.

The existing emergency notification process uses a 'buddy' system to get the word out with the Fire Department and volunteers going door to door. This may not work if the 'buddy' lead is not available, and puts undo pressure on the Fire and Emergency Response Teams to have to notify more people than necessary or find alternatives to spread the word. This is especially true for the residents who live away from the main population areas.

The majority of our residents live in the southern area of the island; there is a growing population in the middle and northern areas. There is one road from north to south. Fallen trees could block the road, power/phone lines could be down, and some areas of the island do not have mobile phone coverage.

These residents could potentially be cut off and need an alternative method to be notified and evacuated in the event of an emergency.

The one ferry we have may not be able to handle an island-wide evacuation in a timely manner but we have many resident boaters who know the waters well.

Campbell River boaters are within distance for possible additional support.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, we may not be able to rely on government to provide us with evacuation assistance and transportation.


  1. Potential reduced loss of life.
  2. Reduction of government emergency resources required by being self-organized.
  3. Reduction of time to evacuate the island by enlisting the local boaters and spare boats.
  4. Builds community strength and resilience by being prepared which also reduces the fear factor.
  5. Serves the entire island community with the exception of hearing-disabled residents. NOTE: A separate plan for the disabled will be incorporated into the emergency procedures.
  6. Does not rely on phone or word-of-mouth.Serves as a role model and knowledge share with other remote or isolated communities. Tourist promotion by being prepared (shows a cohesive and progressive community).
  7. TBD as identified by feasibility study.


  1. Project is not a success, government viewed as cause, loss of reputation.
  2. False alarm will have a major impact on the community.
  3. Major Stakeholders cannot agree with the process.
  4. Not enough boats to handle passenger counts (perceived safety thinking boats are on their way).
  5. Time constraints, I may not have enough time to take on such a large project.
  6. Lack of resources (government staff, volunteers, subject matter experts).
  7. TBD as identified by feasibility study.
  1. A cost-effective signal device is available for purchase or can be developed and manufactured.
  2. Funding is available to implement project.
  3. Federal government approves signal sequence.
  4. Provincial and local governments approve and commit resources to the project.
  5. BC Hydro approves signal box on their poles (trees could be used, prefer the poles if possible).
  6. BC Hydro commits resources for installation or approves third-party vendor.
  7. Community acceptance/volunteer support, and willing to participate in mock emergency drills.
  8. Signal devices do not harm the environment.
  9. TBD by feasibility study.
  1. All components are available:
  • Solar-Powered panels to produce sufficient power for the signal boxes.
  • Portable Wind power devices that can be used with or in place of Solar panels.
  • Air Horns of various sound distances that are remotely controlled and are weatherproof.
  • BC Hydro poles exist throughout the island and another service vendor already shares poles.
  • Telus has a tower on the southern island that may be used for remote control signals.
  1. Unknown if suitable device exists.
  2. Unknown expensive to design and manufacture a new device if required.
  3. Unknown if it's possible to provide signal coverage to the entire island.
  4. Unknown if BC Hydro will agree to share poles (i.e. interfereswith their remote operations).


  1. Designated Authority authorizes island-wide evacuation.
  2. Signal Operator sounds the alarm (Red/Yellow/Green).
  3. First Responders (Boater Division North/Middle/South) know when to prepare their boats for evacuation (Yellow), when to go (Red) and when to return (Green).
  4. Residents know when to start packing (Yellow) when to go (Red) and when to return (Green).
  5. Residents know where spare boats may be available.


  1. Accurate head count due to transient residents: vacationers, visitors, “pass-through” road passengers from Cortez Island ferry.
  2. Weather may prohibit smaller boats to be used.
  3. Accurate number of boats available (boat replacements have less passenger capacity).
  4. Signal Device malfunctions.
  1. Determine feasibility and detailed requirements.
  2. Obtain approval and support from Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments.
  3. Develop roles and responsibilities for Health Authorities, Signal Operator/s, First Responders (Boater Division) and the Community.
  4. Identify and train the Signal Operator/s, First Responders (Boater Division) and the Community.
  5. Identify signal box locations by soliciting Community, Government Authorities, BC Hydro, Telus, and Cable input.
  6. Install signal boxes in a controlled roll-out to pilot and check-point throughout implementation.
  7. Schedule and host a annual event one day mock evacuation festival (non-essential services).
  8. Maintain and test the signal boxes according to manufacture recommended schedule or better.
Environment, a satisfactory environmental a****sment on device component
Community (Quadra Island)
Emergency Response Team (Quadra Island)

Police, Fire and Ambulance Departments (Quadra Island)
Canadian Federal Government for input and approvals

Canadian Armed Forces (advisory for Signal Sequence)
Lighthouse Operators need to be aware of Signal Sequence
BC Government for input and approvals
BC Government Provincial Emergency Program for input and approvals
Municipal Government (Campbell River) for input
Health Authorities for input and approvals
BC Hydro own hydro poles
Telus share hydro poles
Cable share hydro poles
BC Ferry Corporation (Quadra Island and Campbell River routes)
Boaters Association (Quadra Island and Campbell River)
Hotels, Resorts and Marinas
Private residents with docking facilities
Marine Traffic - must not impacted by signals
Quadra Island Tourist Accommodations to ensure guests are informed of procedure
Quadra Island adventure companies for extra boats and kayaks
Cortez Island Residents for pass-through to Quadra Island ferry to get to the mainland
Day Tourists and Visitors need to be informed of the procedure
TBD by feasibility study


  1. Steering Committee, Project Advisor, Project Manager, Business Analyst, Project Coordinator.
  2. Communication staff.
  3. Area Provincial Government agent for approval and participation with the procedure process.
  4. Provincial Emergency Program agent for approval and participation with the procedure process.
  5. Local Emergency Response team for the procedure process.
  6. Local boaters for the procedure process.
  7. Community representatives for the site location.
  8. Solar power expert to assist with signal box development.
  9. Electrical expert to assist with signal box development.
  10. Wind power expert to assist with signal box development.
  11. BC Hydro representative for approval and oversight of signal boxinstallation.
  12. Environmentalist to ensure the signal + box does not impact environment (noise, corrosion etc).
  13. Signal sequence expert/s to determine an appropriate sequence compatible worldwide.
  14. Trainers to develop training material and provide training sessions according to roles.
  15. Social Media Expert, Graphic Designer for communications strategy.
  16. Event Organizer for the annual Mock Emergency Festival.


  1. Ongoing signal box maintenance.
  2. Ongoing training sessions as required.
  3. Annual mock emergency evacuation festival.
  4. Presentations to other communities/governments about the project.

  1. Expansion to other remote islands or communities around the globe.
  2. Develop an Ushahidi network for the island.
  3. Develop a 'Dark Site' for the island.

Air Horn components:
Air Horns for inclement weather:
Loud Air Horns:
Remote Warning Station:
Solar Powered Warning Systems:
Solar Powered Fire Warning System:
Portable Wind Power:

[Tags TBD, include evokation urgentevoke quadraisland ...]


Views: 69

Comment by Jeremy Laird Hogg on May 10, 2010 at 3:08am
my overall impression:
By far the most robust demonstration of local insight I've seen on evoke.

my two cents:
The inventory of challenges is a good idea. Imho however, at least most of them should be followed up with probable solutions or at least ideas for overcoming them. Hm, not sure if I should say too, but food for thought: I'd think about axing your own time constraints as a challenge - I think you are assumed to find the time to follow through if you were to get the funding.

ps - neat idea, crisis management on an island would certainly have its own challenges.
Comment by Buffy B on May 11, 2010 at 12:20am
Thanks Jeremy! Good feedback. My idea is to get a feasibility study going which will identify and address the risks and challenges I'm certain there are more. I'll try to add what I think is the mitigation but don't want to give the impression I have all the answers at this point. I have to be realistic about my time scheduling this wasn't expected and it will be a lot of work. Just want to cover myself, but instead of just saying my time is constrained I'll reword so it doesn't look like I can't do it at some point. Thanks again :).
Comment by Ternura Rojas on May 13, 2010 at 4:24pm
Buffy! you show you know exactly what you want and why and how. Congrats!
I would do a summary, like a short pitch, very catchy and place the rest of the backing info below. According to studies (job hunting) you have 20 seconds to catch the attention and sympaty of the reader :-) you have all my symphaty thoug!
Comment by Buffy B on May 13, 2010 at 4:45pm
thanks Ternura, great feedback and excellent point!
Comment by Ternura Rojas on May 15, 2010 at 2:34pm
Buffy you are VERY brave! I hope you can make it happen next course. Keep in touch :-)


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