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Northern Health closely monitoring wildfires, evacuation plans in place

Fort St. John was put under an evacuation alert last night due to the nearby out-of-control Red Creek and Stoddart Creek wildfires.

Northern Health is taking the necessary precautions to ensure people keep getting the care they need through the alert, and through a worst-case scenario evacuation.

“It has prompted us to establish our own emergency operations centers so we can do proactive planning for the impacts on health services that may occur,” Eryn Collins, a Northern Health Spokesperson, told Vista Radio.

“At this point [evacuations] aren’t needed, we know that we do have time to plan and that planning is taking place,” she said.

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All Northern Health facilities in the Northeast are still open at this time.

If that were to change, Collins said Northern Health would be looking at “any number of things.”

“It would vary, depending on what community or facility we are talking about,” she explained. “Looking at the Northeast, for example, we are continuing to plan around the external from our sites, supporting reception centres in communities who are accepting evacuees who need primary care, nursing, or mental health and substance use services.”

In the event of a hospital, or similar facility needing to evacuate, Collins said safe transportation for patients is on the top of the list, which could see people go anywhere in the province based on needs and availability.

“Fortunately / unfortunately there have been other areas in our province, and in limited cases in our region in years past, where there has been a need to proactively relocate residents or patients from a facility,” she said.

Looking at the wildfires around the Northern Health region, she said it is understandable for some people to be feeling higher levels of stress and anxiety right now.

She is encouraging anyone feeling this way to explore the free online mental health supports that are offered through the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

Collins also suggested concerned and impacted residents stay up to date through Emergency Info BC.

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