What skills can I offer?

What skills can I offer?

What skills can I offer?

Last month at our Emergency Preparation Stop the Bleed (STB) event in Madison Park, I was inspired to hear the story of how the Lake City STB group emerged out of neighbors asking themselves, “In an emergency, what skills could I offer?”

Like the Madison Park neighborhood, Lake City received a grant some years ago to set up an Emergency Communication HUB. In case you aren’t familiar with this Emergency Communication HUB concept, this is a designated place for prepared volunteers to gather and coordinate with city departments in the event of a major disaster.

A box of basic communication supplies has been stored in a box near the Madison Park tennis court area, with other valuable ham radio and tech supplies stored elsewhere for coordinators to access. The operative words for these HUB sites are communication coordination, not provision of supplies.

In the event of a disaster, neighbors can come to the HUB to share information about particular dangers (i.e., gas leaks, fires or unstable buildings on their blocks) or to seek information, such as the status of roads, bridges or water quality. The HUB will also provide a system to post information about such things as lost and found people and pets, possible emergency shelter, medical and other needs.

This last idea is what launched the Lake City Stop the Bleed volunteer group. A handful of neighbors exploring HUB work discovered that they had medical skills, such as Susanna Cunningham, a former nurse and faculty member of the UW School of Nursing, and Ann Forrest, a former Army Corps nurse.

They learned about the Harborview Medical Center’s STB services and together got a neighborhood grant from the city to get props needed to offer their own training. Before long this group selflessly began to offer themselves to any private or public group that wanted to learn more about how to offer immediate first aid assistance to halt bleeding from a severe injury stemming from a disaster, accident or active-shooter situation. The training they continue to offer around Seattle is a concrete way they have contributed to a skills bank of neighbors helping neighbors in life-threatening situations.

This inspiring group got me to thinking about what might be possible in our Madison Park neighborhood. We have a wide range of skills and resources that could be critically useful should volunteers be needed to respond to an emergency. Skills that would be needed go far beyond medical ones, including construction, search and rescue, utility shut off, caring for children, pets, seniors, low-literacy groups or those with limited mobility.

Can you cook for large groups? Have you been a scout leader or outdoor camper? Are you skilled at bringing folks together, negotiating dilemmas, managing with less, repurposing or inventing resources? How might you get to know others in our neighborhood to form a response team for a widespread emergency?

As Susanna Cunningham describes it, starting to come together around a desire to be helpful generally creates more neighborly places to live. People start greeting each other on the street, recognizing and watching out for pets, children, crime, and opportunities to lend a hand. I’ve heard first-hand stories of blocks forming a Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP) group and discovering people they knew in their children’s preschool days, at the gym, or a long-ago Boy Scout troop. There are stories of new friendships being formed as well: people bringing food to a neighbor after surgery, or taking in each other’s mail or trash cans as needed. In today’s world these almost sound like old-fashioned memories, but they actually tap into a current longing most of us have for more meaningful connections with those around us.

Many of us also have very busy lives and find it hard to make time for something that isn’t immediate or of an urgent nature. On the other hand, perhaps you, like I, feel a creeping sense of urgency about the state of our world. One anecdote to fear and fretting is friendliness, community service, stretching ourselves to be as human as we can be. Please ask yourself: What could I offer? What could make a small or even large difference?

If your answer includes taking a role in neighborhood emergency preparation, please contact our little volunteer group as we are actively seeking more coordinators to carry out all the good ideas for the preparation process. To get involved or find out more, contact these Madison Park Neighbors: Sarah Armstrong at saraharmstrong215@gmail.com; Margie Carter at margiecarter@comcast.net; Mary Beth McAteer at msimiele1@gmail.com; and Dave Reeder at madparkhub@gmail.com.