West Seattle Be Prepared: New ‘hub’ joins in successful quake drill

May 9, 2011 at 10:30 am | In How to help, Preparedness, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

(First two photos courtesy Karrie Kohlhaas)
A hub is born! The new North Delridge Emergency Communication Hub made its debut as part of the Saturday morning earthquake drill with groups like theirs from around the city. Volunteers gathered at the site – which joins the roster of other “hubs” around West Seattle where communication efforts will be coordinated in case catastrophe takes out the regular channels – at the Delridge P-Patch, to go through role-playing scenarios:

Karrie Kohlhaas described some of those scenarios in a note to her neighborhood mailing list (quoted here with permission):

–Family trapped in basement—138 people needing shelter—gas leak at the 76 station–water has been rationed by the city–looting at the Super 24–no fire fighters able to reach us–pack of dogs forming–lost child–Longfellow Creek flooded–another 6.8 aftershock–need rope and generator–heli-drop of water bottles on the way–another hub needs nurses–do they have a generator to loan to us? How can we get it from them?

If the hubs ever have to swing into real action, that’s the sort of thing they may find themselves dealing with.

Delridge was one of two hubs participating in citywide radio communications during Saturday morning’s drill. The other was one that’s been on the list since the program began three years ago, for the Fairmount neighborhood (south of The Triangle). At that site on the Providence Mount St. Vincent grounds, Chas Redmond was among the volunteers equipped with radio and other tools (pencil and paper played a big role):

(That Fairmount photo and the next one are by Patrick Sand for WSB)
WSBP co-founder Karen Berge tells WSB that the exercise overall “went very well, and that the North Delridge hub team “hit the ground running. … Those of us at the Fairmount hub enjoyed hearing their enthusiasm, as well as their professionalism & resourcefulness.” Karen says Highland Park hub leader Dave Brown worked with the new Delridge hub volunteers and, “To us listening from the Fairmount hub, they all sounded like they knew what they were doing & had done it before.” Just so you get an idea of how this might all work – the scenarios include reports of major problems, which are all noted and tracked – this board at the Fairmount hub showed some of them:

Karen adds, “The improvements to the forms & processes that we’d made since the last drill were effective.” Here’s a diagram she included in her response to our questions about how it went:

She continues, “A key improvement is that we realized at the last drill that it is very important to have the radio operator away from other activities and noise. … This drill was more realistic in that we had considerable issues with radio interference & garbled signals – as we might during a real emergency. Still, we managed to effectively communicate – since many of us regularly participate in periodic drills as well as radio tests each Monday evening, it was easier to ‘fill in the blanks’. Our process also has some redundancy; at times that can seem tedious, but in this situation it was helpful. One key takeaway, from this morning drill in chilly spring weather, was that the ground temperature had an effect over time. By the end of the drill, all of us had very cold feet!” She has more photos from the Fairmount site on the WSBP blog-format update site.

Again, the intention of all this is to make sure that West Seattleites can help take care of each other in case of disaster – since authorities have repeatedly warned that they will be overwhelmed, and it may take days for any sort of official help to arrive. There is plenty of room for more volunteer participation in West Seattle Be Prepared – here’s a place to start. And even if you’re not ready to volunteer yet, know your nearest Communication Hub’s location, and make sure your family/neighbors know about it too. You’re also invited to the next WSBP training/education session, with a focus, again, on earthquakes – it’s coming up one week from tonight.

5 Comments

  1. Is there a new hub at the pea patch? It doesn’t show up on any of the Hub maps that I can find. It is certainly needed because Pigeon Point is quite a trek up the hill for many of in the valley!

    Comment by carolei — 12:37 pm May 9, 2011 #

  2. I should have said, it’s so new it’s not even on the maps yet! It literally debuted here. An awesome volunteer named Ben is heading up the effort. Well, they’re ALL awesome volunteers. I have to tweak that story a bit, wrote it under deadline duress, but yes, the hubs continue to expand so that more neighborhoods are served, and it’s an ALL-volunteer effort, so ALL help appreciated – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:59 pm May 9, 2011 #

  3. I’m so impressed by these people. Thanks for the work your are doing.

    Comment by noquakeshereplease — 2:18 pm May 9, 2011 #

  4. No pressure, awesome volunteer Ben!
    .
    It was a fun group on Saturday, and we learned a lot. I look forward to more practice and, hopefully, never using these skills.

    Comment by jay — 5:31 pm May 9, 2011 #

  5. Yes, and if I ever have to run the radio for the real deal, I want Jay beside me because he rocked it managing the insanity of messages that came our way.

    This is such a great way to get involved and feel the team spirit.

    Also want to give a shout out to Dave Brown who worked with us on Saturday. He is studying to become an Emergency Operations expert and offered a lot of great insight.

    He is currently working on some new Delridge Hub cards and will be getting them translated in several languages so more people will know about the hubs. Thanks Dave!

    Comment by Karrie Kohlhaas — 1:16 am May 10, 2011 #

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