First Response Protocol

Helping displaced citizens during an emergency

Losing your home, even if it's temporary can be a traumatic experience for anyone. These situations in large emergencies may activate the Region of Waterloo's Social Services Emergency Response Plan (SSERP) The SSERP exists to ensure that the following are immediately provided to the citizens in need:

  • Emergency Shelter
  • Registration and inquiry
  • Lodging
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Personal services

During a smaller emergency situation that involves fewer than 50 people being displaced from their homes, Fire departments or Police automatically contact the Canadian Red Cross to activate the First Response Protocol to provide assistance to those who need it as quickly as possible.

On site, the Canadian Red Cross provides each individual with a personal comfort kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, socks/underwear) as well as certificates for food. If necessary, the Canadian Red Cross will contact the Waterloo Region Emergency Support Teams (WREST) volunteers, trained in crisis intervention who are able to provide emotional support to individuals traumatized by an emergency. Additionally, the Grand River Transit (GRT) may be called upon to provide a bus(es) for temporary shelter or transportation for the displaced individuals.

In partnership with the Region of Waterloo Social Services and the Canadian Red Cross, Lutherwood and John Howard Society Housing Help Centres, may also assist individuals who have been displaced from their residence due to an emergency to find alternate accommodations.

The successful implementation of the First Response Protocol is dependent on the ongoing collaboration of all key community partners to respond to the various types of emergencies in unison. Without clear roles and responsibilities and protocols in place from all partners, residents would not receive the help they need in emergencies.

In the past year, The First Response Protocol was activated for 30 housing units and has assisted people that have been evacuated from their homes due to fires, evictions and spills. The First Response Protocol is an effective partnership that ensures the citizens of Waterloo Region are kept safe in emergency situations.

Whether it's a flood, fire, gas leak, explosion, utility disruption or public health concern, all partners are ready and prepared to assist.