During the Accessible CERT training last year, Bruce Visser and Devon Myers practice bandaging skills. Photo courtesy of Janeen Olson

During the Accessible CERT training last year, Bruce Visser and Devon Myers practice bandaging skills. Photo courtesy of Janeen Olson

Redmond prepares for earthquake drill later this year

Organizers seek community input on training excercise.

Residents will likely be on their own when it hits.

An earthquake, predicted to be a 9.0 magnitude, will likely topple buildings and leave people without access to emergency services.

What has been deemed the “Big One” will bring about devastating damage to King County. For 10 years, the Redmond Ready program has aimed to help residents help themselves by equipping them with first-aid and CPR training.

“If we can empower our community to help each other and have life-saving skills to solve problems in a disaster, that’s a key to resilience and recovery,” said Janeen Olson, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program manager for the city of Redmond. The CERT program trains the basics of disaster reponse to residents.

Now Redmond is taking its preparedness a step further.

The city will be holding the remaining nine Extraordinary Meetings, gatherings to engage the community in revitalizing emergency plans in Redmond. These meetings will lead up to a first-time, city-exclusive exercise: Cascadia Rising Solutions 2019. It’s slated for October.

The next meetings will be Jan. 25 at Fire Station 17, 16917 NE 116th St., and Jan. 26 at City Hall, 15670 NE 85th St. Both sessions are the same.

During the monthly events attendees will examine the city’s crisis communication plan and discuss risk and exercises to ready people for when disaster does inevitably come to Redmond.

Community voices are needed to understand what city needs are, Olson said. This input will be used to design the fall exercise.

It’s anticipated that the earthquake will overwhelm responders and the emergency system will be inundated. As a result, people will have to fend for themselves. Redmond has a nighttime population of about 65,000. And when Microsoft employees commute in, and others who have daytime gigs in the city, the population swells to more than 110,000.

“Consider that population in our service area if disaster happens,” Olson said. “Responders responsible for this area are not going to be able to cover it. There will be hundreds of requests coming in and not enough professional responders to answer. We’re trying to prepare people to take care of themselves and others.”

And if you’re prepared for something as major as an earthquake, Olson notes, you’re probably ready for smaller, more common emergency events like wind and snow storms.

The planning effort comes from response problems discovered in Redmond following Cascadia Rising, a four-day exercise in 2016 that simulated a 9.0. magnitude earthquake. City departments from the region were involved in the large-scale drill event.

It was during this collaborative effort that Redmond discovered gaps in its earthquake plans, particularly with transportation and communication during the disaster. Unlike Seattle, which is full of downtown high rises, Redmond is surrounded by trees — trees that will likely fall and prevent emergency responders from reaching citizens, Olson said.

And the city’s hazard mitigation plan from 2009 revealed that much of Redmond’s commercial, as well as some residential, buildings sit upon a liquefaction hazard area. In the event of a large quake, the soil could become quicksand.

“Soil liquefaction and intense ground shaking often cause the most damage during an earthquake,” according to the city plan. “Liquefaction occurs when strong earthquake shaking causes an immediate weakening of soils such that the soils take on properties similar to quicksand. Liquefaction most often occurs in artificial fill, and in highly saturated loose and sandy soils, such as low-lying coastal areas, lakeshores and river valleys.”

Rather than wait until 2022, when the next Cascadia Rising is planned to happen, city emergency management decided to hold their own training, being proactive about preparation.

“2022 — that’s a long time to wait,” Olson said. “A plan isn’t really plan if we don’t train and exercise.”

To sign up for the Extraordinary Meeting four visit: tinyurl.com/yannycp3.

For more information on Redmond Ready visit www.redmond.gov/ready. More information on the CERT program can be found at www.redmondccc.org/cert.

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