“Wedgwood Team to Wedgwood Hub. This is a drill. I am reporting a gas leak at the corner of….”
“View Ridge Team to Wedgwood Hub. This is a drill. I am reporting a power line down….”
“Maple Leaf Team to Wedgwood Hub. This is a drill. We have a car stuck snowbound with three occupants suffering from hypothermia. Requesting support.”
The airwaves were busy on Saturday morning (October 29th), as the first-ever test of Wedgwood Emergency Communications was put into action. More than 75 people attended the event, which was part of a city-wide emergency communications test. Participants came from all over NE Seattle, including Maple Leaf, View Ridge, Meadowbrook, Hawthorne Hills, Ravenna/Bryant, even Pinehurst, Fremont and Montlake. They all helped out with the given scenario – that we were in the third day of a severe winter storm. Low priority issues, such as people out of food or water, were reported in and dealt with locally. High priority items, such as fire, utility issues, or lives-at-risk, each of which requiring action by the city, were reported via radio to Seattle’s Emergency Operations Center downtown.
The drill was fun, and was special in many ways. It was one of the first major events at the Hunter Gathering Place, as the Hunter Tree Farm site is now considered. Through an agreement with the Hunter family, organization from Pomegranate Center, funding from Tully’s Coffee, and lots of community effort, the site was transformed over the summer from an empty lot to a usable gathering place that is open for community events.
This drill also marked the official recognition of the Wedgwood Hub by the City of Seattle, which means that we will get a fair amount of help and support by the city going forward. The hub is a structure to house radio communications in the event of a community-wide disaster, and it functioned great in its inaugural drill. (Note: No radio equipment is actually stored in the HUB.)
Success of the drill was due to the huge variety of participation that we saw. We had many volunteers from Wedgwood, as well as people from more than 15 of our neighboring communities! In addition, a gang of amateur radio operators descended from as far away as Bothell, and we had as a speaker a fire fighter from Kent. We had dignitaries from Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management , and our fantastic North Precinct Crime Prevention Officer, Terri Johnston, on hand as well. We kept warm with coffee donated by Café Van Gogh (thanks Janet!) and bagels from Noah’s bagels. This was a true community effort!
Thanks to everyone who participated. A special thanks goes to Theresa Edwards, who coordinated the drill itself. Additional thanks go to the team behind the $13,500 Neighborhood Matching Fund grant proposal submitted earlier in October, which, if funded, will provide additional education, awareness and training, all focused around increasing community resiliency in the event of emergencies of any kind. We’ll find out in December if we get that grant or not. Funded or not, we will continue to have community events around emergency preparation.
As always, we remind you: There are no local stockpiles of emergency supplies. Each of us is responsible for putting aside enough for ourselves and our families. The minimum is to have at least a 3-day supply of water – many recommend at least a 7-day supply. In the event of an emergency, first check on yourself and your family. Then check in on your neighbors and make sure everyone is okay. Then compile a list of what you need and what you have to offer, and send someone to the Wedgwood Hub with that list.
Lastly – if you did not participate in this drill, come to one of the next ones. It is fun and will ensure that a real emergency goes a lot more smoothly.