FEBRUARY 10, 1997
Lee Franklin (right), Disaster Specialist with the American Red Cross, joined Woodinville Public Works Coordinator Cliff Olson (far left), Woodinville Police Sgt. Clint Olson (center), and 23 other agency representatives at a mock disaster session for Woodinville last week.
Photo courtesy of Marie Stake.
by Jeff Switzer, senior staff reporter
When the big one hits, whether it be a monster snowstorm, an earthquake, or wind storms, Woodinville could arguably be the most prepared area in the state. Last week, representatives from the city, fire district, water district, Red Cross, Northshore School District, and the Woodinville Medical Center participated in a mock snowstorm disaster as a brainstorming exercise for future calamities.
The Woodinville Fire Board also authorized the purchase of a 20-foot waterproof and windproof container that will be filled with enough Red Cross supplies for 100 people for use in the event of a disaster, including cots, blankets, comfort kits with toothbrushes and personal items, and limited first-aid kits. The $2,500 cost of the container will be paid from the Reserve Fund with an option to replace the money if donations are collected.
The fire district plans to place this container strategically out on the east end near Cottage Lake, maximizing resources with the container which will be downtown in the City of Woodinville. The Red Cross supplies are replaced free of charge and see no borders. Also in the works is a 20-foot container filled with medical equipment which could act as an instant M.A.S.H unit with a full triage set-up.
Dominic Marzano, Woodinville Fire's administrative battalion chief, has taken a lead role in emergency preparedness in the area, drawing on his experience at the Northridge disaster in California and cleanup after a tornado.
"The primary reason we held the tabletop exercise is because a lot of people have never been through an emergency," said Marzano, who noted half of the 26 people at the table had not been put in an emergency situation before. "This was a very low-stress, brainstorming session."
Marzano said once the discussion was rolling, counterparts at different agencies, from the water district to the city to the school district, learned about the resources and capabilities of the others. "Planning is the most important part of preparedness," he said. "The ultimate job of an emergency provider is to get life back to normal."
Marzano teamed up with Woodinville Planning Director Ray Sturtz and others to put on the recent mock snowstorm, amplifying the effects of the most recent storm. Rather than the snow falling mostly in the evening, as happened Dec. 26, the mock disaster allowed people to make it to work with three to four inches of snow on the ground before the real storm hit.
"It was good for the staff, the districts, and the Red Cross to sit down and communicate face to face," said Sturtz, noting the strong commitment of all involved to come up with a system and plan for when a disaster happens.
Sturtz and Marzano went to Mt. Weather, Virginia, last summmer to take part in a Federal Emergency Management Agency-sponsored Eastside mock disaster with representatives from Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and Mercer Island. They reacted to a stressful 7.3-magnitude earthquake which rocked the Eastside, isolated Mercer Island, and collapsed many of the freeways, in addition to Woodinville's City Hall.
As was learned in that exercise, 80 percent of all life-saving efforts are taken by ordinary citizens, underscoring the need for everyone to learn and know CPR and basic first aid.