Wildfire season in 2017 taught Northern Health some lessons for this year.

The Northern Health Board of Directors said they “examined significant differences” between the 2017 and 2018 wildfire season impacts on Northern Health services.

“In 2017 Northern Heath’s response to the wildfire activity, which was taking place to the south of us for the most part, was largely about supporting interior health by accepting patients who had been evacuated from facilities in their region,” said Eryn Collins, Communications Officer with Northern Health (NH).  

According to her, this year’s wildfires affected people closer to home for the health authority.

“We took a look at the 2017 wildfire season and learned some lessons from that, and that definitely helped us navigate the impacts this year which were more directly impacting services and communities within Northern Health.”

“We needed to focus on advance planning on things that might happen, such as the need to proactively evacuate our patients and residents from the Fort St. James area when that community was under evacuation alert.”

She said it allowed them a smooth transition of the patients from Fort St. James to their facility in Vanderhoof, which was the biggest mobilization of patients for NH during the fire season.

“Every season, as we are rapidly learning, is very different and can have different impacts on health care services on a community level or health care services themselves. We’ll be applying anything that we’ve learned to any response we are called to mount 2019,” said Collins. 

“It’s a lot of advance planning that I hope we don’t have to put in place.”