Madison Park Emergency Prep: Disaster Preparedness Includes Practice

As September has been designated as Emergency Preparedness Month, in Madison Park volunteers gathered on July 30 to conduct an emergency communications drill.

During this exercise, a group of volunteers field tested using our junction box supplies to set up designated areas around tennis courts to handle communications for different scenarios neighbors might encounter after disaster damages and disrupts our city. For example, areas have been designated for self-education posters; radio messages to and from the city and other neighborhoods; needs displays; lost and found animals/people; supplies and equipment to loan; skills to offer or seek; And so on.

Our practice included recruiting neighbors to challenge us with scenarios they needed help with, and we ended with a debrief on what we learned, what went well, what we need to further understand or improve. Every time we practice, we improve.

Our Madison Park communications hub is one of those few hubs in Seattle that has multiple volunteers who constantly participate and evolve the sophistication of our hub. Currently, there are 135 hubs in Seattle. Volunteers from other neighborhood hubs are beginning to attend our exercises to learn how they could improve the operation of their hubs.

Maybe some of you would like to join us too? We have one or two exercises a year where we set up the whole system and send radio messages throughout the region and receive messages from other places.

Additionally, we meet three to four times a year to restock the hub box, conduct disaster preparedness outreach, or conduct tabletop exercises where we practice the hub’s communication systems sitting inside around tables.

Most Monday evenings, from 7:30-8:00 p.m., a small group walks around the neighborhood to practice contacting each other using our two-way radio walkie-talkies which will be used in the event of an actual emergency.

Prepare

Perhaps you have not yet paid attention to research and predictions of potentially disastrous earthquakes and tsunamis in our region, or perhaps you have delayed preparing your family and household to ensure your security. Now would be a good time to start this task as we now have great efforts underway in our neighborhood, across the city and state, with locals and a wealth of resources to guide you.

We recommend that you start your own preparation by going to the Seattle Office of Emergency Management website, https://www.seattle.gov/emergency-management/prepare/prepare-yourselffor 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 “to-go bags” to store at home and also in your vehicle for a possible three-day walk home

Make a family plan to know what to do, where to meet, who to contact in case of separation

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

Implement an “out of area” emergency contact communication plan

Sign up for emergency alerts on your phone

Learn how to organize your self-help block as a member of Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare

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

Remember that you will always stay more motivated and progress better if you team up with others to accomplish these tasks. You can set deadlines together and help each other meet them.

Take the time to practice

Being informed and putting things in place is an important part of being an adult. Delaying or staying in some kind of denial buys little time. Being responsible requires taking the time to prepare for the inevitable and predicted disasters that are part of our future. When the time comes, we’ll do better if we’ve practiced a bit, because practice helps us train our brains to respond to seizures from the executive part of the prefrontal cortex of our brain, rather than our unregulated amygdala, or “primal combat”. -or-leak” structure of our brain. That’s why we have the fire and now the lockdown, the drills. The possibilities for repetition help our brain to be flexible and creative, even in the face of disruptive challenges.

Every year, an international Great ShakeOut day is established to encourage people to practice protecting themselves during an earthquake. In 2022, mark your calendar for October 20, when we encourage you to join all families, organizations, and workplaces in Washington and beyond to practice the recommended “Drop and Hold” safety precautions. You can find plenty of advice online and even sign up to indicate that you will practice at https://www.shakeout.org/washington/.

We hope you will 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: [email protected]

Mary Beth McAteer: [email protected]

Margie Carter: [email protected]