2 West Seattle locations listed at end:
If you drive around Seattle this Saturday, you might notice some slightly unusual neighborhood gatherings—with whiteboards, radio equipment, folks in safety vests, and more. What’s going on? It’s the latest city-wide disaster drill carried out by Seattle’s Emergency Hubs and the Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service, and the participants are citizens from all walks of life, united by a mission to assist at a time of major need.
Saturday’s “Seattle’s Fault” exercise will bring together volunteers from two organizations whose missions align closely: Seattle Emergency Hubs, a grass- roots, neighborhood network of community members who foster hyper-local organizational and communication resources; and Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), a volunteer organization of amateur (“ham”) radio experts operating under the auspices of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.
The drill simulates conditions the day after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake along the Seattle Fault has caused extensive infrastructure damage. The damage from such a quake would likely include a failure of grid power and cellular service, making communications and emergency services a challenge. Because the Hubs are key gathering points for neighborhoods, communications between the Hubs, ACS, and the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) are critical. Much of the exercise will involve moving simulated messages around the city using field- deployed, off-grid communications.
The key goals of the exercise are:
• Activate multiple Emergency Hubs and Seattle ACS, emphasizing reliable, efficient, accurate message management and documentation. Exercise participants will use voice as well as data communications via radio, throughout the city. (Technical highlights include using office-style telephones and email systems, routed entirely over ham radio frequencies and running on battery or solar power.)
• Demonstrate, practice, and assess the ability to communicate up and down the various levels of the response structure, based on the Incident Command System (ICS), which spells out a hierarchical, yet flexible, means of managing emergency situations.
• Nurture strong working relationships among Emergency Communication Hub members and ACS members, through team problem solving and practice.
In an event such as the one this exercise portrays, the neighborhood Hubs would mobilize to assist with the immediate needs of residents, especially those who may need emergency services. The ACS would also have activated shortly after the scope of the outage was known, with sector sites around the city providing situation reports and helping coordinate emergency and logistical responses.
“It’s really important for us to practice our plans” said Cindi Barker, Volunteer Coordinator for the Hubs. “We need know that our planning is going to help the community. It’s also a great way to meet people who are interested in the hubs and finding out how they can be better prepared.”
“Seattle’s Fault is the latest in a series of emergency exercises that helps our membership to continually hone their skills and upgrade, deploy, and test their equipment,” said David Wilma, Deputy Director of ACS. “With each successive exercise, we aim to sharpen our skills as well as our technical infrastructure, to ensure communications capabilities in a difficult situation.”
Radio Locations: City of Seattle Emergency Operations Center (ACS PIO on-site), 105 5th Ave S Enter at corner of 5th S and S Washington Maple Leaf Park, Roosevelt Way NE and NE 84th St. Ella Bailey Park, 2601 W. Smith St. Madison Park, west of 43rd Ave E and east of the playground equipment.
South Seattle Hubs Hiawatha Playfield/Community Center Hub, 2700 California Ave SW (behind the dugout, 1st base side)
Morgan Junction Park Hub, 6383 California Ave SW