Disaster preparedness is central to the Seattle volunteer group


There are 66 volunteer-manned hubs in Seattle neighborhoods in anticipation of a crisis, and dozens of other designated unmanned hubs where people are likely to meet. About 120 people are on the hub captain’s email list, and 1,700 people receive the hub’s general newsletter.

For the past six years or so, the centers have held an annual field exercise to streamline how each will help people solve problems that may arise in a disaster, and all communications are cut off. A major earthquake along the Seattle fault would lead to building collapses and large fires that would cause many casualties – the kind of priority emergency services would give. What hubs practice is mostly how to help everyone.

“When the earth shakes, your neighbor will be your first responder,” says Hutton of the Office of Emergency Management.

During the field exercise, volunteers at the hub recruited family members, friends and strangers to stage hundreds of scenarios they could face in the days following an earthquake. Between 30 and 35 actors walked through around 225 scenarios over three hours with around 25 volunteers from the hub, as dozens of community members walked around with interest in the event.

Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs Network co-founder Cindi Barker seemed excited to find new ways to test volunteers. “By George, our volunteers are here. … Let’s throw a bunch of people up and see if we can break it, ”said Barker, who hosted the event.

The actors were met by Deborah Witmer – a vulnerable populations planning coordinator with the city who previously worked as a stagehand – who gave them scenarios, such as asking for help for a partner facing a medical emergency. or suggest the use of a meat smoker to anyone suffering from Meat spoilage.

The actors approached a volunteer host, who directed them to a tent where people could deal with their theory problem. From there, they navigated between information services, volunteer coordination, medical stations and the like where they claimed to offer spare supplies, seek medical help, share operational updates. management and fill out forms with improvised information. A handful of them ended up sending messages to or from the city through volunteer amateur radio operators at the Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service table.

Some scenarios barely required relaying a message; the bolder asked volunteers to figure out what to do when firefighters told them their posts might be on their way to a landslide or help a bus full of stranded children from Issaquah get home them. Actors ranged from middle-aged boy scouts and firefighters to center volunteers and Jefferson Park recreationists who stumbled upon the excitement at random and tried improvisation.


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