100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).

Interior Health reviewing evacuation processes

100 Mile mayor questions evacuation during wildfire season

Interior Health put the 100 Mile community in a “complete tailspin” when it pre-emptively relocated patients and long-term care residents during the summer wildfires, District of 100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall said.

Campsall said he was in a meeting with wildfire officials Aug. 14 when “everybody’s phones started to light up” with the news that Interior Health was proactively moving residents from Fischer Place and Mill Site Lodge, despite no evacuation order or alert being in place.

“This last fire season we had IH phoning people in my community, totally frightening them to death, telling them that 100 Mile was being evacuated they had to leave now,” Campsall Natalie Kulyk, Director Clinical Operations, who appeared as a delegation to Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District Board Friday.

“We’re trying to understand what happened. We were not on alert, we were not on evacuation order, we were not near any of that. It literally put my community in a complete tailspin.”

Campsall said he had “many, many seniors” calling him, the district office and BC Wildfire to find out what was going on.

“We have no understanding of what happened there,” Campsall said. “This forest fire season was a complete debacle and this piece did not help it out at all.”

Kulyk acknowledged the situation caused confusion in the community and said Interior Health is improving its processes to “solidify that process going into the future.

“Going forward we’re trying to make an IH-specific evacuation more clear to prevent that.”

She noted Interior Health generally only relocates “difficult-to-transfer” residents when there is an evacuation alert.

“Those typically take longer to get to a safe zone. We take that proactive approach during the alert phase to relocate those folks,” she said.

A full-on relocation wouldn’t occur unless there was an evacuation order. In this case, however, the decision to move residents from 100 Mile came down from Incident Command “based on the intel relayed to us at the time.”

That was definitely part of after-action review,” she told the hospital board. “We definitely have looked at that as a part of that review to solidify that process going into the future. We want to make sure we have proper processes in place.”

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