Volunteer Mobilization Center Prepares for Real Disaster

If you visited the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center (WUECC) during the Cascadia Rising exercise on June 8 and 9, you saw over forty organizations training in the event “The Big One” hits Whatcom County.

Volunteers receive safety precautions prior to simulating going to a disaster site, where they would be under the direction of Whatcom County Sheriff's Department personnel.

Volunteers receive safety precautions prior to simulating going to a disaster site.

On the other side of the door, the Volunteer Mobilization Center (VMC) operated on full cylinders. Under the direction of Mel Monkelis and Terri Temple, a dozen core volunteers took leadership as new ones arrived and got processed.

Several stations were set up, manned by VMC volunteers, including Check-in, Referrals and Safety. Whatcom County citizens completed forms and underwent background checks. Safety precautions were reviewed in depth, followed by the distribution of assignments based on an individual’s special skills. If a disaster actually struck, volunteers would be sent to specific sites, where they would be directed by Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department personnel.

Matthew Frase adjusts amateur radio equipment on a volunteer.

Matthew Frase adjusts amateur radio equipment on a volunteer.

Additional stations such as Finance, Amateur Radio, Data Processing and Telephone Bank were manned by trained core volunteers who taught others as shifts changed. A bulletin board displayed simulated requests for assistance in child and animal care, sandbag placement, food and water, medical supplies and more.

Volunteers Dirk Vermeeren and Pam Melton update a Whatcom County map with simulated road closures and collapsed bridges.

Volunteers Dirk Vermeeren and Pam Melton update a Whatcom County map with simulated road closures and collapsed bridges.

Stress was high, yet VMC volunteers kept cool and stayed focused.

“I am still astounded by the experience and depth of knowledge of you all, and humbled by your spirit and determination,” said Mel Monkelis, RSVP Program Director, who oversees the VMC program.

In the event of a real natural disaster, the VMC is ready to assume the monumental task of screening and providing volunteers to support the WUECC agencies.

For additional information about the VMC, click here visit our Web site

By L. Jane Ringe
Volunteer Mobilization Center Public Information Officer

Photo Credits: Jonathan Williams Photography

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