Volunteer Mobilization Center Disaster Preparedness Meet-Up

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Volunteer Mobilization Center Disaster Preparedness Meet-Up

Contact: Heidi Kissinger, Email: kissinger123@hotmail.com

Bellingham, WA   May 12, 2016

The Volunteer Mobilization Center (VMC) will be having its last Table Top drill exercise in preparing for the Cascadia Rising event being held on the West Coast, from Northern California, Oregon, and Washington to the Canadian Border. The Table Top drill exercise will be held on May 23, 2016 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Center for Spiritual Living located at 2224 Yew Street Road, Bellingham. The VMC is a program of the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County.

The VMC will process the hundreds of Whatcom County spontaneous volunteers that show up to help in the recovery efforts after a disaster. The VMC screens, assesses and sends these spontaneous volunteers to areas in the county where they are needed.  If you want to be part of the team that screens, assesses, and processes these spontaneous volunteers, come to the May 23rd meeting.

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) and the resulting tsunami is the most complex disaster scenario that emergency management and public safety officials in the Pacific Northwest could face. Cascadia Rising is an exercise to address that disaster.

Conducting successful life-saving and life-sustaining response operations in the aftermath of a Cascadia Subduction Zone disaster will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of governments at all levels – cities, counties, state agencies, federal officials, the military, tribal nations – as well as non-government organizations and the private sector.  One of the primary goals of Cascadia Rising is to train and test this whole community approach to complex disaster operations together as a joint team.

The VMC is just one organization participating in Cascadia Rising. Cascadia Rising in Whatcom County is being coordinated and led by the Whatcom Unified Emergency Management, a partnership between the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office-Division of Emergency Management and the City of Bellingham’s Office of Emergency Management.

If you cannot make the May 23rd meeting at the Center for Spiritual Living, the VMC meets on the 4th Monday of every month at the same place and at the same time. For more information, visit:  www.WhatcomVolunteer.org/Disaster


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Completion of a successful operation!

Bellingham (WA) – Community response to news of a May 7, 2016 rally in Lynden by Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for President, was immediate. In addition to citizens supporting or opposing Trump’s candidacy, law enforcement, fire, government officials … Continue reading

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Trump Rally recap

The Donald Trump rally at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden ended peacefully a little before 5 p.m. No arrests were made at the event, but three people were arrested for disorderly conduct when a group of protesters blocked all … Continue reading

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Whatcom County Plans for Candidate Visit

Bellingham (WA)

On Saturday May 7th, 2016, Presidential candidate Donald Trump will be visiting Whatcom County to promote his campaign.  Law enforcement and public safety resources as well as government officials are responsible for providing a safe environment for this visit. Due to the high profile of all presidential candidates a higher degree of security is required. We cannot do this alone, it is the job of everyone in our community, not just the police, to provide a safe and respectful environment.

There have been some incidences of clashes between different groups during primary rallies in other parts of the country. That’s not something we want Whatcom County to experience. We hope those who attend or are in the area during rallies will do their part to ensure civility defines our actions. We are a community that recognizes and appreciates differences of opinion and our expectation is that this visit will occur without incident. However we want people to know that we will be vigilant in protecting the safety and wellbeing of all our community members.

With regard to security detail. We are not allowed to provide specifics because that would compromise safety of not only the visiting dignitary but bystanders, our staff and other agencies’ staff as well. We are working with The United States Secret Service related to event security.

You will see significant security presence, possible traffic congestion, visible law enforcement and support agencies. This includes Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security, Lynden Police, Washington State Patrol, Bellingham International Airport Operations, and other local and federal agencies.

We ask that everyone cooperate to ensure an environment that allows for safety and for free speech. These are our community’s values.


Those attending are advised to plan ahead for the security screening practices that accompany any presidential candidate visit. A good rule of thumb to follow: do not bring any items to the event that would not be allowed through screening at an airport checkpoint. To enter the event spectators will walk through magnetometer screening similar to that at an airport. Do not bring weapons of any kind (including knives of any size), umbrellas, signs, banners, or tripods. Please limit personal items and do not bring large bags. Small bags such as purses are allowed but will be subject to search for security reasons. Cameras are allowed. Due to the difficulty in storing and returning items that are not allowed through screening, there will be no storage area. Visitors are advised to leave items that won’t clear screening at home, or to secure them in their cars prior to driving and parking at the event. At the request of organizers, please don’t bring signs to the venue.


Expect heavy traffic in Lynden, and specifically in the Fairgrounds area on Saturday. Finding proper parking may be difficult. Arrive early to allow plenty of time to get into the venue due to congestion. Entrances to the event are limited to Gate 2 on Front Street (northwest) and Gate 5 on Kok Road (southwest).

We will continue to provide information regarding this event by way of the Whatcom Unified Emergency Management Twitter site; @WUEmergencyMgmt

A call center will be available on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to address event specific questions and concerns. The call center number is 360-788-5303.

Media contact:

Whatcom Unified Emergency Management
Joint Information Center
360-788-5303 Saturday only
360-815-3127 Friday only

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Amateur Radio in Disasters

As many disasters have shown us, from large-scale Hurricane Katrina to the localized Skagit Bridge collapse, our usual methods of communicating fail quickly when pushed beyond their limits. This is why amateur radio plays such an important role in an emergency or natural disaster. When all else fails, a properly trained amateur radio operator can quickly and efficiently communicate valuable information between responders and decision makers, helping the right services get where they’re needed most.

"Ferndale Auxiliary Communications Service volunteer, Dave Carr, provides communications support during the 2015 Ragnar Relay."

“Ferndale Auxiliary Communications Service volunteer, Dave Carr, provides communications support during the 2015 Ragnar Relay.”

As part of the Cascadia Rising exercise, June 7-8, amateur radio volunteers across Whatcom County will test their skills by providing 36 continuous hours of communications support to local and State emergency personnel. We’ll simulate the effects a 9.0 earthquake would have on western Washington and test how well our existing emergency response system responds to such a large-scale event.
So are you ready to take advantage of the services your local amateur radio volunteers can provide, or to use to your own radio equipment and skills to aid in a disaster?
If you’re already one of the exercise participants, don’t miss the May 12 meeting at the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center to learn more about what amateur radio can do for your organization in an emergency or large-scale disaster.
If you’re a ham radio operator interested in participating in the upcoming exercise, please leave a comment below with your name and the city/county in which you live and we’ll help you find a local group to work with. Emergency Communications (EmComm) training is also offered free, online, via the ARRL http://www.arrl.org/emergency-communications-training. You should also learn more about the Incident Command System, so you understand who’s responsible for what/when during an event. Start with the FEMA IS-100 course (https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-100.b), which is also offered free online.
If you’re not a ham, but would like to learn more about how to get your initial amateur radio license, visit the American Radio Relay League Web site at http://www.arrl.org/getting-licensed. Tests are offered locally throughout the year.
When disaster strikes, will you be ready to help?
By Cathy Watson, KD4SWF
Ferndale Auxiliary Communications Service
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Emergency Responders: Preparing Your Own House

If you work for an emergency response agency such as the police or fire department, or volunteer for a disaster response and recovery agency such as the American Red Cross, you are likely motivated by a desire to help people. You will be among those the community looks to when disaster strikes. But will you be ready when the time comes?

The first step in being ready to help the community is to ensure your own family is prepared in the event of a disaster. A disaster is by definition an overwhelming event, but those who will be best able to help others will be those whose own families are safe and as well provided for as possible.

To address emergency responders and their families specifically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developed the Ready Responder Toolkit. According to FEMA, this toolkit “is designed to provide emergency response agencies with a series of planning tools to help prepare their personnel and their families for emergencies.” The toolkit can be used individually, as well, by proactive members of the emergency response community.

The steps toward family preparedness are basically the same as for other members of the community, with the exception of preparing your loved ones to manage without you during the response period. The FEMA toolkit explains that taking these steps is especially important for those with emergency response duties.

“Without taking the appropriate steps to prepare themselves and their families in advance of a disaster, responders will be hindered in their ability to perform their jobs when a disaster strikes, and will instead be focused on personal and family safety. Appropriate advance planning lessens the burden on responders during a response, enabling them to devote more of their mental resources to the task of securing the community.”


Whether you are employed as a first responder or volunteer for a response and recovery organization, your own safety, and that of your family is number one. You cannot function well as a responder without knowing your loved ones are safe. In order to help others when disaster strikes, you need to have your own house in order before it strikes.

By Raina Clark
WUECC Volunteer Public Information Officer
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Tips For Driving During and After an Earthquake

Driving on roadways during and after an earthquake can be hazardous.  Doug Dahl of the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force has recently put together some guidance for this subject, which can be found here.

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Disaster Planning For Older Adults

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If you or someone you love is an older adults with special health care needs, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers many wonderful resources to help you develop a personal preparedness plan. Go to this link for more information: http://www.cdc.gov/aging/emergency/preparedness.htm. Disaster planning is particularly important for older adults and their families. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states, “Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that many times accompany disasters.” Older adults are usually more vulnerable because they are more likely to have impaired physical mobility, diminished sensory awareness, chronic health conditions, or social and economic limitations that interfere with their ability to prepare for disasters and to respond and adapt during such events. Creating a plan is an important act of caring and compassion.

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Medical Needs and Disaster Planning Tips

By Susan Sloan

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In developing a Family Emergency Plan, be sure to consider your family MEDICAL NEEDS and develop a plan before an emergency or disaster occurs. Check out the Washington Department of Health’s Medical Needs: Disaster Tips fact sheet that can get you started in developing a disaster medical plan. Topics include medications, medical supplies, electrically powered medical equipment, oxygen and breathing equipment, IV’s and feeding tube equipment, etc.

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Emergency Preparedness Guide in 8 Languages

by Susan Sloan

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The Washington Department of Health has created a “Prepare” home emergency guide that covers key health topics, such as emergency supplies, making sure your water is safe to drink, and how to prevent the spread of germs. It is available in 8 languages: Chinese, English, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. To download, go to http://here.doh.wa.gov/materials/home-emergency-guide.

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