Emergency Response

UBC has response structures and processes in place to deal with all manner of emergencies. Built upon the elements of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation, UBC has developed and maintained an emergency management program based on the BC Emergency Management System (BCEMS), a recognized standard system for emergency response across British Columbia.

Our Response Structure

UBC’s response structure is a three-tiered system made up of Incident Response (Incident Command) at the scene, an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate at an organizational level, and a Crisis Management Team to make policy-level decisions.

When an incident happens on campus, UBC departments respond, sometimes in coordination with police, fire and ambulance. When the EOC is not activated, Departmental Operation Centres may be stood up to manage the incident. If an incident significantly strains or overwhelms these responders, trained people come together forming the UBC EOC to coordinate information and resources to support the management of the incident.

The UBC Crisis Management Team is made up of the President and UBC Executives to manage emergencies, business interruptions and emerging issues which could have a major negative impact on UBC’s ability to achieve its objectives and successfully execute its strategies.

No matter the nature of the emergency, there are four key priorities when responding:

  1. Protection of life safety — Ensure the safety and well-being of all members of the UBC Vancouver community and visitors to the campus.
  2. Incident stabilization — Contain the incident to keep it from expanding.
  3. Property and environmental preservation — Minimize damage to property and the environment.
  4. Mission continuity/resumption — Re-establish teaching, research, and other mission-critical activities with minimal disruption.



Emergency Operations Centre

An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is a predesignated location where people come together to manage the response to an event that has significantly strained or overwhelmed regular operations. An EOC involves responders from the site of the incident (i.e. UBC), but may also require coordination with multiple external responders or agencies.

Emergency responses often bring together a team of people with a variety of skill sets often from multiple agencies. To be effective, a common approach to the command, control, and coordination of the response is needed. This standard approach is referred to as an Incident Command System (ICS).

When emergencies require significant resources or management, organizations require a strategic level of support to coordinate an effective response. Under ICS, this is the role of an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).

When is an EOC activated?

An EOC may be activated when:

  • A significant number of people are at risk or impacted
  • Response coordination is required
  • Resource coordination is required
  • Uncertain conditions or a need to monitor
  • Potential threat, imminent or actual impact to people, property or the environment
  • Concern that normal operations may be overwhelmed
  • Major planned event

How do we implement this at UBC?

Every year, UBC holds an emergency training exercise to better position individuals and the institution for real emergencies. This is a planned and controlled emergency exercise that allows UBC to practice elements of the UBC Emergency Management Plan, including the activation of the EOC.

Exercises are held each year during spring. The emergency scenario is shared publicly with the university community in advance. Several external agencies are involved as part of the event, just as they would be in a real emergency.

For more information about the training exercise, visit the Emergency Management Program Training Exercises on the Safety & Risks Services website.


For more information on UBC’s Response Structures and the Emergency Operations Centre, view the ‘Crisis Management Plan’ and  ‘Emergency Response Plan’ here.

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