PR professionals honoured for work during 2017 wildfire season

By Greg Fry
June 13, 2018 - 10:20am Updated: June 13, 2018 - 4:27pm

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. — A pair of communications professionals have been honoured for their work in helping inform the public during last year's devastating wildfire season in the Cariboo.

Emily Epp, manager of communications with the Cariboo Regional District and consultant Tim Conrad were bestowed with the 2018 Canadian Public Relations Society's (CPRS) Shield of Public Service at a ceremony May 28 in Charlottetown.

The pair were recognized for "working exceedingly long hours for the CRD's eleven-week emergency response to ensure the public was well-informed of evacuation orders and alert changes," says the CPRS.

Following the fires, Epp and Conrad remained committed to the cause by launching a six-week public consultation to evaluate the emergency response. That consultation was made up of 24 meetings covering the entire 83,000 square kilometre region.

Epp says she was honoured to receive the award adding it was a reflection of all the hard work of so many people in their emergency operations centre.

So, what does she remember most?

"I think with this emergency, especially for me and for all my colleagues working in our emergency operations centre, it was a bit unique in that it was also our emergency affecting our family and friends and that's something I never experienced before."

Looking ahead, she admits "there's a mix of nervousness" heading into this fire season though she says last year's experience has left her feeling more prepared.

"I'm confident that even though there's still things we want to improve we're feeling more prepared to deal with a big emergency. Not that we want to see that happen again but at least in some ways we do feel like we have more experience under our belts."

Last summer's wildfires forced the evacuation of thousands of Cariboo residents including the entire towns of Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

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