Government and Citizens Partner for Emergency Preparedness

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The county Office of Emergency Management room looked official and serious. It was packed with tables covered with laptop computers and communications equipment and a large county map on the wall. I visualized a busy urgent hubbub  in the event of an earthquake — every station staffed and lots of phone and internet calls going on.

In this local hot spot we taped an inspiring program with Bob Hamlin, program manager of the Jefferson County (WA) Department of Emergency Management, and Deborah Stinson, Community Preparedness Co-coordinator from Local 20/20, a Port Townsend local sustainability group. We had met Deborah, Judy Alexander, Steve Hamm, Sally Lovell, Scott Walker and others when we taped shows there in 2006.

Bob has been in the Emergency Management field for decades. He related being dubbed “Dr. Doom” when he brought reminders to officials and citizens about disaster preparedness. But, he quipped, “an old dog can learn new tricks.”

The “new” arrived in the form of Deborah and others from Local 2020 coming to Bob’s office with an offer to help his educational outreach efforts. Taking a lesson from Hurricane Katrina, Port Townsend residents wanted to be more prepared for emergencies.

Deb told about setting up meetings for citizens to learn from Bob and other first responders like police, Red Cross, fire department, etc. Her group then facilitated people to organize their neighborhoods, educate one another about preparedness, and map their assets (who has what tools or resources, what skills, who needs help in an emergency).

This partnership has transformed the effectiveness of the OEM and made citizens more secure. And it’s a superb model for “not re-creating the wheel” as Deb remarked in the show: Local 2020 is using resources already in place within their community.

Watch Partners in Preparedness: Neighborhoods and Emergency Responders (Episode 181). Check out the Local 2020 website, Emergency Preparedness tab, for links to excellent free resources for individuals and communities wanting to follow in their footsteps. [www.L2020.org/ep].

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