With all of the heavy rains we have had in the past weeks, it is certainly timely to recognize the anniversary of the horrific landslide that occurred on March 22, 2014 and took the lives of 43 Washingtonians. This event may be better remembered by many of you as the OSO Landslide. Regardless of the name used, it was a horrific event.
At that time, I worked for the American Red Cross and was involved with the final planning stages for the Partners in Emergency Conference that we hold in April every year. It was a very emotional time and lots of staff at the Red Cross were devastated by this event. One of my colleagues shared some very telling information regarding gaps in personal safety measures for those conducting search and rescue efforts.
This was the second time in my career that I wondered why safety and emergency management professionals are not better aligned. The first time this thought occurred to me was when I watched the rescue and recovery efforts after the events of 9-11.
In both cases, people were likely unknowingly placing themselves in harms way. When watching the media coverage of 9-11, I remember watching first responders working in all of the dust and debris without any personal protective equipment. In the SR530 landslide, we had emergency responders, volunteers and search and rescue teams and dogs putting themselves at risk, due to the hazardous materials that were likely exposed to in the slide debris. When the National Guard arrived, decontamination processes were then put into place.
I personally find it rather ironic that Safety and Health doesn't play a larger role in Emergency Management. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) provide structure and frameworks for effective response to incidents. One clearly delineated position within the Incident Command System is the role of Safety Officer. Ironically, I would guess that most of my emergency management colleagues would claim considerable ignorance to effective safety and health planning or implementation. Which is why I am glad that there is a new program being taught by UW titled Emergency Safety Specialist Program. To find out more please go here:
Please take a moment on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 10:37am to reflect upon those lost in the SR530 landslide by taking a moment of silence.
DON'T FORGET.........PIEPC VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
Lastly, in last two week's tip, we shared that the early bird registration for the Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference will expire at the end of the month and we encouraged you to consider participating, as paying attendee. I learned this week that we are in need of at least 5 additional volunteers to help with the logistics behind the success of pulling off the Conference. If you would like to volunteer, please complete this form and follow the directions to submit the application to our Vice-Chair.
Hope to see you at PIEPC!
To learn more about preparedness measures or to schedule a presentation, safety walk, tabletop exercise or general consultation with HT2, please Click Here!