How the Red Cross established a temporary call center in minutes (Fort McMurray Wildfires)

In early May 2016, a forest fire forced the evacuation of almost 90 000 people out of Fort McMurray, making this evacuation the largest ever seen in the history of Alberta wildfires.

To help the victims of the disaster, the Canadian Red Cross opened call centers to provide information and services to the population that has been evacuated. One of the call center was set up in Montreal thanks to our system Base Camp Connect and our technical services.

According to the needs and the time of the day, between 8 to 16 people ensured a permanent presence to answer the calls from evacuees. The support that the Red Cross volunteers from Montreal gave to their Western Canadian colleagues has been extended over several weeks.

Canadian Red Cross

According to Claudie Laberge, Director of Emergency Management at the Canadian Red Cross in Quebec «The mobile communication system allowed us to obtain a voice and data communication network within minutes, which is a considerable advantage when a crisis situation occurs. In the case of Fort McMurray, it enabled us to split the calls from evacuees, even in periods of affluence».

This example demonstrates the importance of establishing actual and future needs in terms of communication. This being as important for responders on the field as people that work from the outside. It is imperative to establish the type of technology that should be used for the voice, data, and radio to be ready when the next disaster will occur.

Fort McMurray residents are now slowly returning to their home trying to recover a near-normal life.