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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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, www.issaquahcitizencorps.com.

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.

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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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.

Leaders urge emergency preparedness

October 12, 2010

Issaquah Highlands residents gathered at Blakely Hall over pizza and soda late last month to prepare for a cataclysm.

The meeting, part of the statewide Map Your Neighborhood effort, brought together residents of a highlands neighborhood to prepare for the aftermath of a strong earthquake.

“What we found out with Katrina and the Kobe earthquake in Japan is that neighbors depend on neighbors,” Stuart Linscott, a highlands resident and Issaquah Citizen Corps Council board member, told the group.

Linscott and other corps members offer free education and training to organize Issaquah residents — neighborhood by neighborhood — for disasters.

Because only a handful of Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters might be on duty in Issaquah at the time of a calamity, city and state officials encourage residents to take steps to prepare.

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Citizens are encouraged to be ready for disaster, quake drill

April 6, 2010

On Wednesday, April 21, between 9:45 and 10 a.m., there will be a statewide earthquake drill. The “Drop, Cover and Hold” exercise is part of Washington state’s observation of Disaster Preparedness Month.

“I encourage all citizens to increase their knowledge and awareness of proper safety measures to follow before, during and after a disaster,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire in a press release.

One local group leading the way is the Issaquah Citizens Corps, a team made up of volunteers that promotes and provides emergency response education and training to the public free of charge. Offerings include the Map Your Neighborhood program, which provides free trainers to visit local neighborhoods.

At these “parties for preparedness,” neighbors can learn what to do in the critical first minutes following a disaster, identify skills and plan how to work together, set up a neighborhood meeting location and map out hazards including natural gas and propane outlets.

In addition, the corps also teams with the national Community Emergency Response Team organization to offer classes, including first aid training, basic firefighting, light search and rescue, and how to turn off utilities. Space is limited, so it’s best to sign up early.

Aside from classes and seminars, there are basic, simple things everyone easily can (and should) do to make sure they and their families are prepared, because when a disaster happens, it may not be possible for emergency responders to reach you right away.

People “need to be able to rely on their own skills and training” and “become self sufficient,” said Josie Williams, spokeswoman for Eastside Fire & Rescue. Read more