CERT Program of Kirkland, WA

Reflecting on Oso
Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pattijean Hooper, Kirkland Emergency Manager

I was in my second month on the job in Kirkland, and had registered with King County in several subject matter expert categories and received a call-up to serve in the Planning Section. This found me working in the Snohomish County Emergency Operations Center with the Planning team (we wore blue vests and sat behind logistics who wore yellow vests).

Each day we worked a 12 hour shift and were separated into different planning functions; my responsibility was the demobilization plan. The intent of that plan is to provide direction on how to release all assigned resources, from objects to personnel (e.g. the water buffalos, the National Guard, the porta-potties, the EOC staff). The idea is that no resources are to leave the incident unless authorized to do so (for tracking, safety,  and accountability purposes).

My greatest frustration was all the documents people would write in cursive or Klingon. Me, and a bevy of MRC administration volunteers needed to decipher these documents that clearly said PRINT CLEARLY on the top. Critical things are taking place in the field so no one wants to be lectured on handwriting, but we needed to document everything (for responsibility, for public records, and accounting). My technique to get people to address handwriting was performed at the daily briefing in front of the whole staff when I stood up and SANG the "Print, Print, Print Your Words" song, (sung to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"). It added a little levity, and certainly got people’s attention.  So I have evidence that occasionally I use honey to catch flies.

Strongest memory: The kindness of people always lingers. . .the county executive’s family would bake homemade cookies in the evening and bring them to the EOC workers daily. The stress dog handlers would bring by their dogs each day for a visit. Children from local schools would write cards with words of encouragement and teachers would bring them to the EOC for distribution (what a great way to decorate a work station). In the middle of an incident, small acts of kindness and humanity create a great sense of community.

 

 That's Pattijean sitting at the laptop, trying to decipher handwriting.

 

Janice Christian and Todd Bancroft
written by Janice

Both Todd and I responded in two different capacities.  One as SAR [Search & Rescue] and as MRC (Medical Reserve Corps] in the phone center and Todd in Logistics center.  We got the first pages from MRC then SAR on Saturday March 22, 2014 we had just finished up a MED 2 refresher for Kirkland CERT at Fire Station #22.  I then headed to the slide zone to do the documentation for the rescue efforts.  Todd was on duty at Fire Station #24 (as a volunteer firefighter / EMT) and was unable to respond first day.  Todd then worked multiple days at DEM taking calls for the missing. When the call center was shut down he worked logistics for them.  I worked the call center for a day taking calls for the missing.  I then worked a day at the Arlington Airport documenting all air traffic.  Then Todd spent two days at the Skagland LZ site helping with logistics.  That was the location all the National Army Reservists were landing the Blackhawks and the morgue was located.  I spent four days at that site doing all the documentation for the mission.  

Todd’s strongest memory would probably be taking the calls at DEM and speaking with a woman that called to let us know that her husband was supposed to be at Steelhead Drive but a friend talked him into staying back in Burien to help install a hot water tank.  That friend saved his life.  My strongest memory would be hearing the radio traffic with small and large packages ready for pick up from the Alpha LZ.  The term “packages” is what they said on the radio instead of “human remains”.  

The take away from this for the both Todd and me would be how quickly and how strong our amazing Snohomish county SAR and MRC volunteers are.  We stayed strong and proud of our crew.


Photos by Ameeta Chainani

<< All album photos 4/4 photos
Jen's note: my apologies, I can't seem to get this photo oriented the correct way. Even still, it is a powerful photo of the debris, a surviving tree, and the American flag at half-mast.
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