Ready for anything
September 5, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Snoqualmie ramps up disaster preparedness
Emergency personnel in Snoqualmie learned a thing or two during January’s storm, which left much of the area cold and without power for days — the city needs more trained volunteers to help during disasters, and those volunteers need to pass a background check.
Snow and strong winds caused major power lines to fall across Snoqualmie, and many chilly citizens got to see the inside of the town’s new YMCA for the first time when they sought warmth at the center.
By day two, the community center was able to stay open throughout the night because one of the city’s generators was hooked up at the center for the emergency.
City workers and YMCA personal manned the temporary shelter, but Snoqualmie Fire Chief Bob Rowe said city workers couldn’t be expected to be available 24/7 without a break for such emergencies.
“Given our limited resources, we rely on our community to assist when willing and able,” he said.
Snoqualmie is in the process of making the YMCA community center the Upper Valley’s Emergency Shelter to house people displaced because of a disaster, and it’s looking for trained volunteers to be prepared for the area’s next emergency.
Rowe said the Snoqualmie Tribe paid $50,000 to purchase and install a dedicated generator for the shelter, and that should be completed by the end of this month.
Once that’s installed, he said the city will petition the American Red Cross to have the community center officially designated as an emergency shelter.
Because the shelter will house families, all volunteers must pass background checks.
The city has hired Pre-employ.com, a California corporation, to handle those checks.
Rowe said he is trying to get people to first become Community Emergency Response Team trained.
“CERT teaches one to become prepared for a disaster, and people train in the basics, like fire suppression, first aid, extrication of patients from collapsed buildings, utility shut off, search and rescue and triage,” Rowe said.
“It’s kind of a launching pad into emergency management, and then expands from there to shelter workers or amateur radio,” he said.
Snoqualmie’s next CERT class begins Oct. 6, and applications, which you can get at the fire station, are now being accepted.
However, the city and Red Cross are offering a free emergency shelter training class to prepare community volunteers.
Rowe said the shelter training is more specific than CERT, and teaches how to open a shelter, prepare cots, set up for meals, assist with reunification and help those who left their prescriptions behind.
That class will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 12, at the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA, 35018 S.E. Ridge St.
Space is limited and advance registration is required by calling 888-5911 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or email@example.com.