Ready Southeast committee report
On May 20 we held our 2023 spring training exercise simulating our response to a major earthquake. The goals for the exercise were to engage nearby neighbors in the training, familiarize volunteers with equipment in the supplies box, work together to determine the urgency of various situations, and to improve message development and radio communications.
Twenty four of our volunteers participated in the exercise. Many of them invited their nearby neighbors to join them in some way. Unfortunately, most were met with disinterest. Some, however succeeded in convincing neighbors to walk the block in teams of two looking for HELP or OK signs. Others met at their area’s emergency supplies box and worked together to determine the urgency of the various situations they were confronted with, whether they would respond to any of the situations and if so, what equipment from the box they would take with them. Messages were sent by volunteers working with their nearby neighbors, by those at the emergency supplies boxes to our ham radio operator who in turn sent the messages to a Churchill ham operator serving as the City’s Emergency Operations Center.
In our online debrief of the exercise the following day we asked participants what they thought of the exercise in general, what they would suggest for future trainings and what additional supplies they would recommend for the boxes.
Our volunteers expressed appreciation for the opportunity to practice. They enjoyed meeting in person at the supplies box and working through the various situations they encountered. One of our Area Coordinators (ACs) who was expected to participate didn’t show up. This challenged their Block Captains to find a way to convey their messages through an AC operating in an adjacent area. This was good practice for what will inevitably happen in a real disaster.
Suggestions were made for how we could modify the FEMA message forms to better suit our use. Ideas were shared about what new equipment and supplies we might put in the boxes and how we could obtain them. One volunteer asked that we do a refresher training on how to turn off natural gas and water valves and another asked about the details of the Good Samaritan law that we all operate under as volunteers.