Photo by Margie Carter: Madison Park community volunteers gather for an emergency communication hub drill, July 30, where members tested using hub drill supplies for different emergency communication scenarios. September is Emergency Preparation Month.
Photo by Margie Carter: Madison Park community volunteers gather for an emergency communication hub drill, July 30, where members tested using hub drill supplies for different emergency communication scenarios. September is Emergency Preparation Month.

While September has been designated as Emergency Preparation Month, in Madison Park, volunteers gathered on July 30 to run an emergency communication hub drill.

During this drill, a volunteer group field tested using our hub box supplies to set up designated areas around the tennis courts to manage communications for different scenarios that neighbors might encounter after a disaster damages and disrupts our city. For instance, areas were designated for self-help education posters; radio messages to and from the city and other neighborhoods; postings of needs; lost and found pets/people; supplies and equipment to loan; skills to offer or in search of; and so forth.

Our practice included recruiting neighbors to challenge us with scenarios they need help with, and we ended with a debriefing about what we learned, what went well, what we still need to figure out or improve. Each time we practice we get better.

Our Madison Park communication hub is one of those rare hubs in Seattle that has several volunteers consistently participating and evolving the sophistication of our hub. Currently, there are 135 hubs throughout Seattle. Volunteers from other neighborhood hubs are beginning to attend our drills to learn how they might improve their hubs’ operation.

Perhaps a few of you would like to join us, too? We have one or two drills a year where we set up the whole system and send radio messages around the region and receive messages from other locations.

In addition, we meet three to four times a year to replenish the hub box, perform some outreach about disaster preparedness or have tabletop drills where we practice the hub communications systems sitting inside around tables.

Most Monday nights, from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., a small group wanders the neighborhood to practice contacting each other using our two-way radio walkie talkies that will be employed in the event of a real emergency.

Getting yourself prepared

Perhaps you haven’t yet paid attention to the research and predictions of likely disastrous earthquakes and tsunamis in our area, or maybe you’ve stalled out on getting your family and household prepared to keep yourselves safe. This would be a good time to begin this task as we now have some good efforts underway in our neighborhood, across the city and state, with local people and a multitude of resources to guide you.

We recommend you start your own preparation by going to the Seattle Office of Emergency Management website, https://www.seattle.gov/emergency-management/prepare/prepare-yourself, to get quick lists and tips on how to do the following: 

Build an emergency kit for your home with basic supplies to last two weeks

Prepare “grab-and-go bags” to store at home and also in your vehicle for a potential three-day walk home

Make a household plan for what to do, where to meet, who to contact if separated

Learn how to manage your utilities, water supply and human waste

Set up an “out-of-area” emergency contact communication plan

Sign up for emergency alerts on your phone

Learn how to organize your block for mutual aid as a Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare member

Enhance your skills in basic first aid, elementary search and rescue, fire and utility management

Remember, you’ll always stay more motivated and make better progress if you team up with others to get these tasks done. You can set deadlines together and help each other meet them.

 

Make time to practice

Becoming informed and getting some things in place is an important part of being an adult. Delaying or staying in some kind of denial buys only so much time. Being responsible requires making time to prepare for the inevitable, predicted disasters that are part of our future. When the time comes, we will manage best if we’ve practiced a bit because practice helps us train our brains to respond to crisis from the executive functioning pre-frontal cortex part of our brains, rather than our unregulated amygdala, or primitive “fight-or-flight” structure of our brain. This why we have fire and now, lockdown, drills. Rehearsing possibilities helps our brains be flexible and creative, even when facing disruptive challenges.

Every year an International Great ShakeOut Day is established to encourage people to practice how to protect themselves during an earthquake. In 2022, mark your calendar for Oct. 20, when we are encouraging you to join all families, organizations and workplaces in Washington and beyond to practice the recommended “Drop and Hold” safety precautions. You can find many tips online and even register to indicate you will be practicing at https://www.shakeout.org/washington/.

We sure hope you’ll consider joining us soon. At the very least, keep working on your own preparation and practice, training your frontal lobe to take control of your amygdala.

To get more involved, contact:

Sarah Armstrong: saraharmstrong215@gmail.com

Mary Beth McAteer: msimiele1@gmail.com

Margie Carter: margiecarter@comcast.net