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Emergency Social Services (ESS)

What is ESS?

ESS is an emergency response program that coordinates and trains volunteers to provide short-term, basic support to individuals and families who’ve been impacted by an emergency or disaster. The goal of ESS is to help people re-establish normal daily activity as quickly as possible.

What will I gain as an ESS volunteer?

Volunteers can enhance their skills and knowledge through certifications and training experiences, including:

  • Certified Emergency Management Training
    • Basic Emergency Management
    • Incident Command System 100 and 200
  • Informal Training
    • Monthly learning opportunities
    • Hands-on exercises with City’s Emergency Response Teams
  • Networking opportunities with various emergency response agencies

What skills do I need?

ESS supports the community by using the unique skills of volunteers across our city. If you are interested in participating, we can match your skills to a position within the ESS program. Training will be provided for each specific position, just bring your willingness to learn and your passion to help others.

What commitment is required?

  • Participate in training and respond to team activations when available
  • Minimum 12 hours yearly development and/or engagement
  • Complete Incident Command System 200 level training within 18 months of volunteering


Available positions

Assisting individuals and families who have been displaced from their homes.

Ensuring that affected individuals have access to nutritious meals and essential clothing.

Providing emotional and psychological support to individuals who may be experiencing trauma or distress. This can involve trained counselors or mental health professionals.

Offering minor first aid support and connecting with further supports as needed.

Transporting and distributing goods between facilities and individuals.

Assisting in reuniting family members and establishing communication between them.

Supporting systems for affected individuals to register, inquire about services and access assistance.

Disseminating accurate and timely City approved information, available services, and recovery efforts.

Receiving, assessing, and processing donated goods.

Caring for pets that are impacted.

Supporting the specific needs of any vulnerable population such as children, seniors, individuals with disabilities and more.

ESS Volunteer Responsibilities

ESS team members shall have a commitment to serve their community and the ESS mission to the best of their abilities, assuring the integrity of the program. At minimum, members will be expected to participate in 12 hours (annually) of development and/or engagement. This may include deployment at an event as well as training and meetings. Members who are unable to meet this standard will not be considered available for deployment.

ESS team members will respect the confidentiality of information received during an emergency response to anyone other than authorized emergency workers. If necessary, clarification should be sought from the appropriate authority. Confidential information must not be used outside of ESS activities.

ESS team members will provide service to individuals affected by disasters in a manner that is courteous, caring, and professional, while respecting the dignity of people receiving services.

ESS team members will conduct themselves in a manner that meets acceptable social standards and contribute to an environment of mutual respect and dignity, free from discrimination or harassment.

They will follow operational guidelines and established reporting structures.

They will exercise discretion with comments made in public about an incident, people or other organization(s) involved.

ESS team members will take care of their own physical and emotional health and support team members to do the same.

They will report unsafe conditions to their supervisor, ensuring the safety of themselves and others.

ESS team members will direct all enquiries from the media to the designated ICS Information Officer, or City of Lethbridge Corporate Communications when appropriate.

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