Accomplishments (2016-2017)

VashonBePrepared General Activities

  • Disaster Preparedness seminars: Volunteers from CERT, EOC, ACS, and NERO, as well as PSE field staff, presented at two public-facing disaster preparedness seminars, in February and September of 2017. The classes featured household and neighborhood preparedness, emergency communications, gas and electric safety, a survey of volunteer opportunities within the partner organizations, and a preview of the CERT course for 2018. The classes were both very well-attended, and resulted in a number of new potential volunteers in CERT, EOC, and NERO.
  • A group of students from Georgetown University’s Masters program in Emergency Preparedness visited in February to see how Vashon does preparedness. The main focus was on volunteerism. Vashon was of interest to them because our preparedness efforts are almost entirely by volunteers. Volunteers gave presentations similar to those used for the Disaster Preparedness seminars.
  • Prepare Fair at VIFR Open House: 2017 saw a repeat presence of volunteers from various Vashon preparedness groups, sharing handouts and information (along with prizes and candy) with attendees at VIFR’s annual open house. This year’s event was a great success, with a very high turnout and lots of public enthusiasm.
  • The team collaborated with VIFR staff on social media promotion of VIFR’s public CPR classes, which were offered several times during 2017. Classes were filled to capacity, with wait lists.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

Farcy Training Center and EOC 2.0 Upgrade

The distillation of lessons learned from the Cascadia Rising exercise of June 2016 fed into recognition of the need to improve space, technology and integration of the Island's emergency management facility. The EOC 2.0 project was launched, including an additional focus on improvements to the Fire District training center in the Farcy building.

  • The formal requirements document was developed, refined, and completed during 2017, after which it was signed off by key stakeholders.
  • Preliminary cost estimates have been completed for a two-phase approach; the estimate for Phase 1 is included in the VashonBePrepared budget for 2018.
  • Funds from the PSE Foundation grant and other sources continue to be stewarded toward completion of this project.
  • The EOC 2.0 group, led by Bob Smueles, continues to hold planning meetings every two weeks. Implementation is slated to ramp up during 2018.
Mass Care: assisting with community-based winter sheltering
  • During the winter of 2016-2017, the EOC Mass Care team supported the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness (IFCH), which partnered with local churches to provide overnight shelter for people who were without homes during sub-freezing temperatures.
  • Mass Care provided cots and blankets from their stores, which were returned at the end of the winter season.
  • The IFCH personnel who led this effort last winter have stated they are unable to lead it during the coming winter; an attempt is being made to find community leadership for this effort.
  • With the number of volunteers being a limiting factor, Mass Care continues to focus on a community-based sheltering model.
Mass Care: Vashon Maury Community Food Bank
  • In 2017, discussions gained momentum between EOC team members and the staff and board members of Vashon Maury Community Food Bank, to explore the Food Bank’s plans for continuity of operations.
  • The Food Bank’s existing skills and resources are recognized as having the potential to also support the community with food and water distribution, with a corps of 275 volunteers.
Monthly EOC Drill Nights

Topics this year included:

  • How to support community-based sheltering,
  • Introduction to the new Situation Awareness section,
  • Exploring furniture layouts and displays at the future EOC at Farcy,
  • A logistics refresher,
  • How the team might support Strawberry Festival,
  • Looking at disaster scenarios from the movies,
  • ACS session on communications during an incident, and
  • How to access and understand briefings from the National Weather Service.

Meetings with Vashon Community Care board and staff were aimed at supporting VCC’s efforts to get a transfer switch, to connect a generator that would help them with continuity of operations during a power outage. VCC’s primary focus is caring for their 70-plus residents., who would then not need to depend on external resources for care. A secondary goal would be to provide support to medically-fragile members of the community. VashonBePrepared endorsed their grant request to PSE Foundation. A grant was later awarded that will cover some of the costs of the transfer switch.

EOC and Vashon Airport

Discussions were begun between the airport board and EOC logistics team, regarding transport and staging of material and people during an incident.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

  • CERT and EOC Team leadership held joint exercises for improved coordination, based on learnings from Cascadia Rising.
  • CERT refined the damage assessment process for critical locations, a process that was first exercised in Cascadia Rising. They are now on a third version.
  • From Q4 2016 to Q3 2017, CERT conducted numerous trainings and exercises on topics that included GPS technology; hikes to learn the parks as support for search and rescue missions; CERT command post operations; and specific skills drills.
  • CERT took point on organizing a December 2016 combination ICS course (ICS 100/200/700) open to all Vashon emergency groups.

Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS)

  • Learning from Cascadia Rising exercise fed into an ACS Improvement Plan and Project List.
  • ACS team members mastered use of email over ham radio (WinLink and RMS Express) from EOC room. They followed this with setting up an automated WinLink server that could send and receive EOC emails over ham radio, without needing a ham operator in attendance.
  • ACS team members participated with VMIRC in annual field day.
  • ACS added EOC section chiefs and key VIFR staff to the GETS/WPS communications program, with continued reminders to those members to periodically test their GETS/WPS access.
  • ACS LACC custodians conducted quarterly inspections and maintenance of the LACC radio caches in outlying fire stations, including ad hoc refresher training on LACC activation.
  • ACS provided periodic training and testing opportunities for ham radio operators, to raise their skill levels and qualify them to operate the LACC caches.

Neighborhood Emergency Response Organizations (NERO)

  • Count at 31 December was 214 NEROs, up slightly from 210 in Q1, and up significantly from 65 NEROs in mid-2014. There were a steady number of new NEROs, but more attrition this year than last year.
  • There was high demand throughout 2017 for presentations to NERO groups. In 2017, multiple preparedness leaders made themselves available deliver NERO presentations to groups, considerably increasing availability of presenters.
  • NERO coordinators were in attendance at a number of community block parties, adding a preparedness element that strengthened the purpose behind the growing social bonds of those neighborhoods.
  • Planning continued for a new NERO program that enlists VHS students to increase preparedness in the households, neighborhoods, and communities. At the Community Service fair at VHS on 14 November, NERO will launch an opportunity for VHS students to earn community service hours by preparing kits for their household, school, work, and family cars.
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