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Thoughts on the SR 530 Landslide Presentation by Tom Richardson.

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We are so appreciative of Chief Richardson coming out to talk to us about the SR 530 landslide response. This was a personal recap of his time as a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Washington State Task Force working at the landslide. The presentation he gave contained much of the same material he presents to Incident Managers, so we got a great behind the scenes look at the technical aspects of such an enormous response. And his message about the need to figure out how the government and citizens can collaborate in such a response based on their lessons learned was very strong.


Here are the key takeaways for me, thinking about my neighborhood:


We need to talk with our potential resources for aid well in advance of a disaster – the churches, the restaurants, the businesses, the social organizations, etc etc. Get to know each other and what they offer.


Safety, Safety, Safety. If we have to send volunteers out to help dig people out, we can’t risk lives and we need to help watch that any activities are performed safely. This is where we really need to connect with the trained CERT people! Tom mentioned that generally citizen volunteers can rescue 70% of the people at or near the surface, firefighters can reach the people who are trapped and just need equipment assist (cutters, inflatables) and the FEMA Task Force teams are the ones who can safely bring out people who are entombed.


Battlefield Promotions – yes, that’s exactly what will have to happen. People who are casual leaders will be the ones with the skills to step in and help at the broader level, and everyday people will be asked to do more than they thought they could ever do. Every skill will be amplified in its importance.


Technology can’t be ignored. While we will activate in the most serious of conditions, when all normal communication is severed, people will find ways to make tools they are comfortable with work for them. Our ACS partners are very clever in figuring out how to get the power problems addressed, so as soon as technology can be access and shared, people will work on how it can be put to use. We may not know that on the day of the disaster, but someone will show up or step in with ad hoc solutions and we should be open to them and thinking about it in advance.


The need for situational awareness was stressed by Tom. The SR 530 incident presented difficulties that they had to work around because of a lack of information. So anything we can provide at their request will be of great importance and we should continue practicing how to get that information into the city while still performing our essential role of help neighbors.


Just my thoughts,

Cindi Barker

Listed in: Updates

One response to “Thoughts on the SR 530 Landslide Presentation by Tom Richardson.”

  1. Catherine says:

    Thanks for providing this summary! Sorry I couldn’t be there.

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