On Saturday, May 11, several Seattle neighborhoods will be taking part in an earthquake preparedness drill. From 9 a.m. to noon, neighborhoods across the city will test their emergency radio communications skills in an exercise based on a simulated catastrophic earthquake. The goal of the exercise, according to the organizers, is to, “practice preparedness and response actions that will contribute to community resiliency in surviving a significant disaster.”
The drill, titled, “Mayday Mayday” will include over a hundred people from disaster preparedness groups and volunteer response teams, including the Public Health Reserve Corps and ham radio emergency communications teams, sponsored and trained by the Seattle Office of Emergency Management. They use radios for the drill because cell and landline phones can become overloaded or damaged due to catastrophic events.
From the organizers:
The scenario for the event is based on the impact of the 6.3 magnitude, 2011 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand applied to the Seattle area. That disaster took the lives of 185 people and severely damaged the central city buildings and infrastructure as well as causing massive destruction to its suburbs.
Responding to Saturday’s simulated disaster event are community volunteers forming neighborhood “Hubs”. Participants have practiced solving neighborhood problems that could occur during a disaster, responding to needs affecting life and property, sharing community resources, and reporting simulated emergency messages to the Seattle Office of Emergency Management using ham radio.
“In a real event, information communicated by ham radio from the Hubs could be used by City response planners to help assess conditions throughout the city and develop response plans”, said Cindi Barker, a member of the design team for the exercise. Exercise designers have built in some twists and turns involving communications networks and several challenging issues at Hub sites which will develop during the three hour training event.
These exercises provide an opportunity for preparedness new-comers to work alongside their more experienced neighbors to gain experience and learn skills. “It’s all about neighbors helping neighbors” said Carl Leon, one of the drill organizers. “We set up neighborhood Hubs where people can come to get information and share resources or skills to help those that have been affected”.
The Loyal Heights Community Center (2101 NW 77th St) is one of the participating hubs. Other locations include Beacon Hill, Broadview, Capitol Hill, Fremont, Lake City, Magnolia, Maple Leaf, Queen Anne, Shilshole, Wedgwood and West Seattle. All locations welcome visitors who would like to learn and participate in the drill. Contact Cheryl Dyer at 206-684-4052 for more information on the Loyal Heights hub.
To learn more about the city’s emergency preparedness, visit the Seattle Emergency Management site.