Citizens help others prepare for disasters

April 5, 2011

In Issaquah, a city of more than 30,000 people, only a handful of the population has completed the most rigorous training to respond to disasters.

The unfolding disaster in Japan — caused after a magnitude-9 earthquake rocked the island nation early last month — renewed attention on emergency preparedness on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Even in a city as focused on preparedness as Issaquah, some gaps remain in the system.

The city has spearheaded lessons in Map Your Neighborhood — a program to coordinate disaster recovery on a block-by-block basis and identify special skills, such as medical training, among residents — for dozens of neighborhoods, although less then 300 people had completed the more rigorous program, Community Emergency Response Team training, by mid-March.

City and independent emergency planners said the numbers belie the effect of trained responders, especially as CERT members start to educate family members and neighbors in disaster preparedness and response.

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Leadership Eastside is committed to change

March 29, 2011

Leadership Eastside’s mission is to create fundamental changes — within the community and within the individuals who participate in the organization.

“One of our alumni recently said that the real project is you,” said James Whitfield, president of Leadership Eastside.

The nonprofit, officially launched March 16, 2005, “partners with the community’s greatest assets, its leaders, to meet the community’s greatest needs,” Whitfield said.

Indeed, the combination of community involvement and personal enrichment has seen much success during its past six years, largely due to what Whitfield refers to as LE’s primary product, a three-year leadership-development program, which accepts 40 to 45 applicants per year.

Issaquah Highlands resident Stuart Linscott, who was drawn to the program in 2006, said he believed the training would give him a “toolkit of skills” which could then be applied to many aspects in life, including furthering his community leadership, as well as personal and business relations.

Additionally, the people you encounter in the process, who share your values and goals of moving the community in a positive direction, often become lifelong friends, Linscott said.

“I think the neatest thing about the organization is that the people are all passionate about community involvement, and that really struck a chord with me,” he added.

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Leaders urge emergency preparedness after Japan disaster

March 15, 2011

The unfolding disaster in Japan — unleashed after a magnitude-9 earthquake struck the island nation — has emergency planners in Issaquah reminding residents to prepare for earthquakes and other calamities.

“This tragedy overseas reminds us that our region is also at high risk from natural disasters,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “The time to prepare is before emergency strikes.”

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan in the afternoon March 11 (late March 10 in Washington and on the West Coast). The death toll could exceed 10,000 people.

The local group spearheading personal emergency preparedness is the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council, a nonprofit organization formed to prepare residents to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.

“The real basic message is: Be prepared,” council President Alan Bramwell said.

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Press Editorial

March 15, 2011

Earthquake in Japan is call to action here

The international effort to help the people of Japan deal with massive catastrophes is gaining ground. We have no doubt that Issaquah families will do what they can, with prayers, finances and volunteer efforts.

But there is something else every family here can do. Prepare.

The shock of the earthquake in Japan is way too close to what could happen here. If you had been ignoring the warnings to get ready for an emergency, now is the time to pay attention.

Yes, there is food and water to be stored, along with basic medical supplies, but there is more to be done.

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Volunteers needed for Medical Reserve Corps

March 8, 2011

Medical and nonmedical volunteers with the Public Health Reserve Corps set up shop for a mock alternative care facility, a place where certified volunteers can triage patients during a natural disaster, medical emergency or attack. Contributed

How should Issaquah respond to an earthquake? A terrorist attack? A newly discovered and contagious flu?

Volunteers with the Issaquah Medical Reserve Corps will know how to set up an emergency triage station, vaccination clinic and respond to and treat the public. The same goes for the Public Health Reserve Corps, run by Public Health – Seattle & King County, only instead of staying in Issaquah, these volunteers help across the county in the case of an emergency.

“We do encourage people to cross register with Public Health Reserve Corps, so in case of a disaster where Issaquah is fine, we can go to other areas and help out,” said Brenda Bramwell, a volunteer for both the Issaquah and the Public Health Reserve Corps.

The Medical Reserve Corps movement began in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

In the turmoil following the attacks, regular citizens wanted to help, especially those who were medically trained. At the time, there was no standard way for them to organize, and no way for victims to know if the do-gooders had proper credentials.

In President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, he asked Americans to volunteer in support of their country. Shortly after, the government formed the Office of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, with chapters for the organization forming at state and local levels.

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CERT disaster-response training starts soon

March 1, 2011

Issaquah residents can prepare for disasters at Community Emergency Response Team training in March.

CERT training is designed to prepare you to help residents during and after a catastrophe.

In the aftermath of a major earthquake or another disaster, emergency responders cannot help everyone immediately, so citizens rely on CERT-trained citizens to protect and save neighbors.

The program typically includes eight weeks of classes from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Cost is $35. The session starts March 23. Participants can register at the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website,

CERT courses include disaster first aid training, disaster preparedness, basic firefighting, light search and rescue and damage assessment, plus lessons in how to turn off utilities and psychology behind a disaster. CERT members also educate residents about Map Your Neighborhood, a program to coordinate disaster recovery on a block-by-block basis.

Issaquah health fair offers free screenings

February 22, 2011

The ninth annual Issaquah/Sammamish Health & Safety Fair, with a wide array of free health screenings, will be from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Pickering Farm. Admission is free.

The fair will feature more than 50 health care professionals representing about 35 businesses. My I.D. Club, a service of the King County Police Union, will offer free fingerprinting of children. The Issaquah and Sammamish Citizen Corps councils will have information about emergency preparedness for families and businesses. Eastside Fire & Rescue staff will also be on hand.

Specialists from Issaquah will be available to discuss topics, such as care for Alzheimer’s patients and braces for children. Ask questions about women’s health concerns or weight lifting.

Looking for a new doctor, dentist, chiropractor, personal trainer or acupuncturist? No appointment necessary to meet with these professionals at the Health & Safety Fair.

The health fair is presented by Overlake Medical Clinics — Issaquah and co-sponsored by the city of Issaquah Parks & Recreation Department.

Pickering Farm is north of Interstate 90 between exits 15 and 17, across from Costco.

Community Emergency Response Team training starts soon

February 12, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 12, 2011

Issaquah residents can prepare for disasters at Community Emergency Response Team training in March.

CERT training is designed to prepare you to help residents during and after a catastrophe.

In the aftermath of a major earthquake or another disaster, emergency responders cannot help everyone immediately, so citizens rely on CERT training to protect and save neighbors.

The program typically includes eight weeks of classes from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Cost is $35. The session starts March 23. Participants can register through the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council.

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Can you hear me now?

February 8, 2011

Ham Radio Support Group member Ross Morris operates a ham radio in the mobile communication station. By Allison Int-Hout

An earthquake that brings people to their knees, a window-shattering explosion or flood waters surging through the city’s streets — before the trembling subsides or the water settles, life without telephone, Internet and electricity begins.

These disastrous events, which would lead most people to panic, are precisely the type of situations to which certain Issaquah community members are trained to respond.

Radioing out of a trailer doubling as a communications station in the Issaquah Police Department parking lot Jan. 29, the Issaquah Ham Radio Support Group played out a possible emergency scenario, testing their equipment during a Washington State Emergency Operations Center 5th Saturday Exercise.

“King County does a quarterly exercise where all the ham radio groups test to make sure they can talk across the state,” said Mike Crossley, the Issaquah Radio Amateur civil emergency service officer.

During the EOC exercise, the Issaquah Ham Radio Support Group communicated with other EOC locations throughout the state, including Camp Murray in Tacoma.

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City offers free pizza and emergency preparedness

November 23, 2010

The recent snowfall has renewed the focus on personal emergency preparedness.

City emergency planners encourage residents to prepare for disasters. In order to unite neighbors, hosts of Map Your Neighborhood trainings can receive free pizza for the gatherings. The city and the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council offer the program to help Issaquah neighborhoods prepare for disasters.

Neighbors — usually 15 to 25 households per area — hold a community gathering and learn the steps to take in the aftermath of a disaster.

Learn more about the program at the city website and the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website.

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