Disaster Preparedness Training on a Grand Scale - Kirkland Citizens Rally to Train Neighbors

160 Citizens Prepared Through Public-Private Partnership

Photos: Left: workgroup at event, including Kirkland Fire Chief, Kevin Nalder and Kirkland Deputy Mayor, Penny Sweet. Right: event coordinator, Liv Grohn, presenting to all participants prior to neighborhood break-out sessions.

What: Map-Your-Neighborhood (MYN), a neighbor to neighbor disaster preparedness program created by Washington State, was recently implemented on a large scale by local citizen, Liv Grohn, who’d already organized and trained her immediate neighbors.

The aim of MYN is to bring neighbors together, have them learn 9 steps to take immediately following disasters and have them share information useful during emergencies.  The latter includes drawing maps of participant homes; marking the location of gas shut-off valves; listing everyone’s name, contact information, skill areas, and any equipment they have that can help with recovery.

Who: Seeking to motivate many at once, Ms. Grohn met with Kirkland Deputy Fire Chief Helen Ahrens-Byington, Kirkland Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Stephanie Day, and Peter Kirk Elementary School Principal, Sandy Dennehy, to plan, advertise and host the event.  100 volunteers were recruited to distribute flyers, post signs and serve as event leaders, including Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members and Puget Sound Energy donated $500 to support the community-sponsored event.

Residents of the elementary school service area (including portions of Market, Highlands and Norkirk Neighborhoods) were the target audience, although anyone was welcome to attend.  Approximately 160 residents attended.

PrepareSmart (local disaster prep supply company) and Hopelink staffed booths; the former with emergency supplies, the latter with informational hand-outs and free cloth shopping bags for participants to fill with food bank donations.

Officials in attendance, included: FEMA Region 10, Community Preparedness Coordinator, Fred Bretsch; Washington State Representative, Roger Goodman; Kirkland Deputy Mayor, Penny Sweet; and Kirkland Fire Chief, Kevin Nalder.

When: The training was held Sunday, May 23, 2010, from 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Where: The event was held at Peter Kirk Elementary School in Kirkland.  Participants first gathered in the auditorium for an overview of the program and to learn the nine post-disaster steps.  Then attendees were divided up by their location within their neighborhoods and met in individual classrooms to share information.

Public Message: From minor emergencies to major disasters, one’s fellow citizens are usually the quickest to respond and offer assistance.  Professional 1st responders will not even be available to most people for days following a major disaster.  In order to survive these situations with the least amount of trauma, citizens are urged to take advantage of the community’s free disaster preparedness programs, including MYN and CERT.