Alida Erickson is retiring after being there for many emergencies throughout Penticton. (Contributed)

When there was an emergency in Penticton, Alida Erickson was always there

The Emergency Support Services (ESS) director is retiring

The city of Penticton is wishing a fond farewell and happy retirement to Alida Erickson, Penticton’s Emergency Support Services (ESS) director.

Erickson officially started with ESS on Oct. 22, 2008, and has been a volunteer since 2007. Her last day is May 1. Over her 14 year career, she has invested thousands of hours into the community and region, responding to people impacted by house fires, floods, wildfires and disasters.

She’s arrived at neighbours’ homes at 4 a.m. She’s held newborn babies in the back of a car in the middle of winter. She oversaw more than 100 emergencies in the South Okanagan, and was integral in supporting the development of ESS teams in communities throughout the region.

Some of her most significant times leading the team include overseeing evacuee planning for over 4,000 properties in the city and regional district during the Christie Mountain wildfire in August 2020.

She also worked at the provincial reception centre during the wildfires of summer 2017 when several communities across B.C. were evacuated at the same time.

She recruited over 30 local businesses, from hotels to restaurants, to provide services to evacuees during an emergency, and has responded to numerous house fires at all hours of the day and during any weather event.

As ESS director, she was responsible for working with more than 20 partners and a team of over 40 volunteers, to lead Penticton’s ESS program. ESS is available to individuals impacted by an emergency, who have no other means to deal with immediate needs such as emergency shelter, family or insurance. The ESS director must be available at all times of the day.

“We thank Alida for her dedication to our community,” said Mayor John Vassilaki. “She has been called away from birthday parties and important family events in order to support our community. We thank her for her service and the positive example she has set by ensuring Penticton is a safe community.”

May 2 to 8 is Emergency Preparedness Week and the city would like to remind residents to visit to learn more about how to prepare for emergencies, such as a 72-hour kit and ensuring they have appropriate insurance.

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