Disaster Response Routes

Disaster Response Route Sign

What is a Disaster Response Route?

A network of pre-identified routes (including road, marine, air and rail) that can best move emergency services and supplies to where they are needed in response to a major disaster. DRRs are a critical part of the overall emergency transportation system.

Why do we need Disaster Response Routes?

The Disaster Response Route is for the movement of disaster response personnel and resources into, out of and around the region in the aftermath of a disaster. The purpose behind the DRRs is to move quickly to where the need is greatest…and mobility is the key. The services that disaster response personnel and resources provide include: transporting and treating sick and injured people, maintaining law and order, putting out fires, rescuing trapped people, restoring water supply, restoring electricity supply, maintaining traffic control, etc. See General Guidelines and Forms.

When are Disaster Response Routes activated?

DRRs may be activated following a declaration of a local or provincial state of emergency. DRRs are activated only as needed to meet the demands of an emergency or disaster situation. Only required routes are utilized and only for as long as needed. Traffic management on the DRRs will be defined by the event and the authority having jurisdiction in the need to control congestion.

Who can use a Disaster Response Route?

Designated disaster responders or suppliers that have been issued approved placards identifying them and their vehicles. This will allow for quick identification at checkpoints and permit the efficient movement of required resources to where they are needed most. See General Guidelines and Forms for the definition of a disaster responder and to apply for DRR placards for your organization.

When a disaster strikes, unless you are a disaster responder or supplier that has received “prior approval”, please stay off the disaster response routes.

How are the “Users” of the Disaster Response Routes Identified?

  • First Responders (fire, police, and ambulance) and the military using marked vehicles are exempt from  displaying the DRR Placard.
  • Other vehicles must display the DRR Placard.
  • Vehicle operators using the Disaster Response Route and not displaying a DRR Placard must carry personal identification exhibiting a DRR Decal.

Identifying a Disaster Response Route

Public awareness and cooperation is necessary to keep these Disaster Response Routes clear following an earthquake or other disaster, in the interest of saving lives and protecting property.

There are signs along roadways in certain parts of BC (Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria), which indicate DRR designation. Many people believe these signs identify an evacuation route. NOT TRUE. Disaster Response Routes are required for the movement of responders and resources for emergency or disaster response. The designation of Disaster Response Routes means other roadways can be utilized for non-emergency traffic, commuting, or the unlikely event of an organized evacuation. Disaster Response Routes are NOT evacuation routes. They will be activated as needed during an event and it is recommended that everyone listen to the radio and television for public service announcements regarding emergency routes and their uses.  

Where are the Disaster Response Routes?

General Guidelines and Forms

The documents below are general guidelines only. Responders and Planners should consult the local authority or PEP for more information on the concept of operations.

Disaster Response Route Presentations and Background


The Disaster Response Route Program is a joint undertaking of:
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,
Provincial Emergency Program,
Greater Vancouver Regional District, and
Lower Mainland Municipal Governments.