Shelter Evaluation At Cooks Hill Community Church

The ARES team walks through Cooks Hill Community Church during the evaluation process.

As part of our training exercise for this evening’s ARES session, the team performed an evaluation of the Cooks Hill Community Church as a possible emergency sheltering site after a local or regional disaster.  Many circumstances might result in the need to shelter local residents such as floods, fire, earthquake, natural gas leaks or even emergencies involving railroad equipment which travels daily through the downtown Centralia area.

Deciding which entrance to use and where to set up a communications team requires some discussion.

While other agencies are very good at providing more long term sheltering lasting several weeks, there simply is no system in place to house multiple victims, short term, lasting perhaps 24-36 hours.  Local churches, who often are willing to take on such work, have congregations and facilities capable of this support and can be set up and ready to take evacuees often within an hour or two.  The ARES team trains to support those churches with volunteers and, more importantly, communications back to an Emergency Operations Center or the police & fire first responders who may have requested the assistance.

When evaluating a church we have visited before, the team is tasked with walking through the facility looking for some specific areas such as the best entry and registration point for evacuees, sleeping and eating areas, a large meeting room where evacuees can be given information and where questions may be answered.  There needs to be room and services available for preparing food and a location is chosen where a communications system can be temporally set up.

After the walk through, the team takes time to talk through all the possible scenarios and is asked to come up with a shelter plan.  Tonight, we were hosted by the Cooks Hill Community Church.  We wish to thank Terry of the church staff, who patiently walked us through the building and took part in the shelter planning process.  We never know if a particular church might be used as a shelter but preparing ahead of time for that possibility is wise and provides a great training exercise as well.

Thank You Volunteers!

April 15-21st, 2018 is National Volunteer Week in the United States.  Time to thank the hundreds of thousands of individuals that donate their time for causes they believe in and are willing to work for.  In Centralia, we are blessed with an amazing team of highly trained volunteers willing to support their community and the region where they call home.  Being a volunteer, especially an ARES volunteer, is not easy at times.  We work and train in bad weather, must spend our own money for equipment, vests, go-bags and radios, and always have to put up with cranky Emergency Coordinators.  Lucky for us, we have the best looking volunteers anywhere!

All kidding aside, thank you for all the hours you spend to be proficient in your hobby and for being the kind of volunteer any community could be proud to have.  Most of all, thank you for making what we do FUN.

Bob Willey, kd7own, Emergency Coordinator

Busy Week Before Communications Academy, But We’re Ready

Connecting the battery bank

It has truly been a sprint to the finish this week to get our newest ARES Comm Van ready for the Seattle Communications Academy display but we made it.  Thanks to the amazing help from several dedicated volunteers, we completed all items on the punch list and did a final cleaning and fueling around 3:30 this afternoon.

Cabinet adjustment

This week, we completed final wiring on the battery bank and hookups to the radio systems, installed the final cabinet, flashlight  and first aid kit holders, installed the mats, wired the driver’s compartment radio, installed the CB radio antenna and scanner, fueled and checked both vehicles, ran a test of the 8′ x 8′ pop up tent and performed a final cleaning – all that with about a third of the crew missing due to bad backs or commitments.  We are, however, ready to head out Saturday morning (at 6:30am) to the Seattle Communication Academy where our comm van twins will be on display all day.

Clean and ready to go

Our travel crew will be Lyle, KB7PI; Paul, KE7PCB, John, AD6KT; and Bob, KD7OWN but we hope to see many of our team at the comm academy this year and many have offered to help with set up and display time.  If you are planning on attending the 2018 Seattle Communications Academy, stop by our van display and say hello.  We are proud of our vans and can hardly wait to show them off.

See you there!