Kenmore Junior High hosts Cascadia Rising drill for emergency response

Around 20 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers clad in bright yellow vests and green hardhats converged on Kenmore Junior High on the evening of June 7 to get hands-on experience setting up an emergency water purification system.

Around 20 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers clad in bright yellow vests and green hardhats converged on Kenmore Junior High on the evening of June 7 to get hands-on experience setting up an emergency water purification system.

The exercise was one of thousands of operations going on around the Northwest as part of the massive emergency preparedness drill called Cascadia Rising, encompassing more than 20,000 personnel state-wide and more in Oregon, California and British Columbia.

As Northshore Emergency Management Coalition leader Carl Lunak demonstrated how to attach the 20-foot long, 22 spigot water purification device to a fire hydrant by a hose, the volunteers looked on and later tried their own hands at it.

In a real emergency, certified volunteers who prepare with their neighbors will be an asset not just to themselves but to their community, CERT volunteer Laurell Sprague said.

“That is one less neighborhood that firefighters and police have to take care of,” she said.

Sprague has been volunteering with CERT and other emergency response groups since 2004. She said she comes from a family of emergency responders and wanted to get involved.

Kaare Otnes is a newer addition to the team, joining around a year ago, he said. This exercise was his first hands-on training, though he had been attending the monthly meetings.

“I wanted to do something community related,” he said. “It’s all useful knowledge.”

There were two general emergency response groups at the Kenmore exercise, one was CERT and the other was RACES, or Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services.

RACES are short-wave HAM radio operators who practice facilitating communication between responders, government agencies and the community if traditional communications are knocked out during an emergency.

Throughout the exercise, a handful of radios would crackle and the the jacket-clad operators would respond with updates on the situation.

Robert Grinnell has been volunteering with organizations in the Northshore area for more than a decade after watching how HAM operators helped emergency responders in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. He was licensed in 2003 as an operator.

“That kind of lit the spark,” he said.

While CERT team members practice on physical equipment, Grinnell’s is all information. If an emergency occurs, he and his RACES team members can make contact with other operators as far away as Minnesota.

All the volunteers emphasized how volunteering would help the community if, and when, a major earthquake or other natural disaster hits Washington State.

As was widely reported, and taken seriously by emergency response authorities, the state sits close to the Cascadia subduction zone, which lies off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California.

It is predicted that when it rips, it could produce a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami up to 30 feet tall which will smash into coastal regions.

In the Northshore area the Reporter found in earlier coverage that liquefaction, where soil rapidly loosens due to shaking, is possible, as well as buildings and bridges likely collapsing.

Power loss, water contamination and large waves on Lake Washington are other dangers.

In all these cases, emergency response authorities emphasized the importance of a community who already has a plan in place, and as the exercises continue through the week, that is exactly what local volunteers and emergency responders hope to practice.

More in News

Via video monitor, Terrence Miller, a retiree living in the Edmonds area, pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Jody Loomis in 1972, during his arraignment at Snohomish County Courthouse on April 15 in Everett. Andy Bronson /staff photo
77-year-old suspect in 1972 homicide pleads not guilty

DNA led detectives to Terrence Miller, who is charged with killing Jody Loomis, 20, 47 years ago.

Students walk to classes at the UW Bothell campus on May 5, 2018 in Bothell. Andy Bronson/staff photo
UW Bothell sees unprecedented increase in applications

About 35 percent more incoming freshmen applied to attend the university this fall than last year.

Who’s clearing Snohomish County’s encampments?

The Sheriff’s Office is saying it’s not them, but residents disagree.

Jim Pitts stands on walkway overlooking filtration chambers at the King County South Filtration Plant in Renton. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Human waste: Unlikely climate change hero?

King County treatment plant joins effort to counteract effects of carbon dioxide.

Kailan Manandic/staff photo
                                Officials break ground outside Salt House Church for the Eastside’s first permanent women and family shelter. Workers hope to complete construction in 2020.
Eastside’s first permanent shelter breaks ground

The shelter will serve single women and families with children who are experiencing homelessness.

EvergreenHealth seeks to secure funding through a voter-approved bond measure that would pay for critical upgrades at the Kirkland medical center. The Family Maternity Center was last renovated in 1996 and officials hope to modernize the space for new families. Kailan Manandic/staff photo
EvergreenHealth seeks support in upcoming ballot measure

The health system is asking for local voters to approve a bond measure of $345 million over 20 years.

DNA strikes again: Edmonds man, 77, arrested in 1972 killing of Bothell woman

Detectives searched for a Mill Creek killer for 47 years. Genealogy and genetics led to a breakthrough.

Most Read