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Great ShakeOut drill next week

Emergency management is more than a hot current topic. It will have great significance in the future as well.

Which is why Skagit County Fire District 13 Capt. Ted Taylor is proposing that local schools consider teaching their students important community emergency response skills.

Taylor floated the idea during the fire district’s 90-minute monthly meeting at the Snee-Oosh Road station Oct. 5. He reported on a well-received presentation he gave in September as the district’s emergency management coordinator on preparedness for natural disasters.

“It went well and there was a good turnout,” said Taylor. “But demographics in Shelter Bay is a challenge. The average age there is 65.”

So, he pitched starting preparedness programs in the schools, introducing Community Emergency Response Team training as part of the civics curriculum. He noted it has been done successfully elsewhere, notably in areas prone to earthquakes and tornadoes, disaster phenomena that aren’t going away.

“Earthquakes,” he pointed out, “are rare and random. The question becomes, ‘how much preparedness do you do for something that could happen in the next few minutes when it’s rare that would be the case?’”

To help, the fire district – which serves Swinomish Reservation and rural La Conner – will once again participate in Great ShakeOut Day Oct. 19. Launched in 2009, the day promotes ways people can protect themselves during earthquakes and tsunamis.

The fire district is discussing mutual firefighting equipment needs with Town of La Conner officials.

“I’m not sure exactly where it’s going,” said Fire Chief Wood Weiss, “but it makes sense to have a discussion.”

A new ladder truck and fireboat are needed by the Town and fire district. The district’s priority is the truck. The Town, said Weiss, “is pushing for a boat.”

Commissioner John Doyle, retired town administrator, said a goal is to avoid redundancy.

“At the very least,” Doyle said, “we need to see what can be done to accommodate other jurisdictions with our purchases.”

“I would certainly encourage us to have a discussion,” added Commission Chair Bruce Shellhamer. “It’s important that we make sure to not duplicate (purchases) if it’s not necessary.”

Fire district and Skagit Bay Search & Rescue official Gary Ladd reported that SBS&R wants to continue training under the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, but would also like to be dispatched with the district on marine calls.

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to conduct an annual open house, citing the success of September’s with its dedication of the new Larry Kibbee residential unit.

There was a large turnout– despite steady rain – to honor Kibbee, a former commissioner and tour the new firefighter/EMT facility.

“The rain,” Taylor quipped, “was planned in order to reduce the wildland fire risk.”

Start your participation in next week’s Great ShakeOut and get prepared all the time at: shakeout.org/washington/howtoparticipate/

 

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