Hundreds came out Saturday to share in the accumulated wisdom of dozens of local, state and federal public safety and disaster relief organizations and to take a shot at sending the chiefs of some of those organizations to depths in the dunk tank.
The Grays Harbor Emergency Preparedness Expo, hosted on the property of the Moore Wright Group and organized by the county’s Emergency Management office, was a great success, said Deputy Director Hannah Cleverly.
“Grays Harbor County Emergency Management couldn’t be more happy with how the event turned out,” Cleverly said. “From the weather, to the vendors, to the citizens who came out to educate themselves, the whole day went great.”
The event is great for getting folks to think ahead before a disaster hits, said Aberdeen Police Chief Dale Green.
“People don’t think about emergency management until the power is out and the storm is coming and you’re behind the eight-ball at that point,” Green said in an interview after cleaning up, following his turn getting dunked. “Any time you can get people to talk about emergency preparedness is a good thing.”
Departments from Oceans Shores to Thurston County’s Special Operations Rescue Team, from the Washington Geologic Survey to Grays Harbor Public Health set up booths with information and merchandise for guests to snag. The first hundred guests got free go-bags to start their home kit, a new program this year, Cleverly said.
“The go-bags went really fast,” Cleverly said. That’s a new things we were able to bring this year with support from the vendors.”
The multiple fire departments took up an entire side of the parking lot holding the expo. It’s good to get all the departments together saying the same message, said Aberdeen Fire Department fire services specialist Mitch Housden. The location is also an improvement; previously, the expo was held at South Shore Mall.
“Great turnout,” Housden said. “It’s a better location, I think. More foot traffic.”
Other organizations who play a part in disaster preparedness or relief also made appearances, including Lifeflight, West Coast Search Dogs and Washington’s Emergency Management Division.
“We love to come out to these things — if nothing else, to get the dogs out in public,” said Shay Jones, a dog handler with West Coast Search Dogs. “The dogs love people.”
Other organizations that might be useful in preparing for the worst participated — like the Timberland Library. In addition to all manner of useful knowledge about preparing or surviving, libraries can also help residents prepare with their data infrastructure, with their printers and scanners, to print out or upload documents that may be essential following a major upheaval, said librarian Katie Lutz, who works at the Hoquiam branch.
“We’ve been having a lot of great conversations with people about how the library can help with emergency preparedness,” Lutz said.
For others, it was an opportunity to get word out with other departments to strengthen the ties between organizations.
“We want to get our name out there,” said Firefighter/rescue technician Brian Amren, of Thurston County’s SORT team. “We want other fire departments to know the services we provide.”
Cleverly thanked all those who came out and gave their time to make it happen.
“We cannot have this event without all those who come out and create booths, share educational materials and handing out fun giveaways. Saying thank you does not begin to express the gratitude that we have for each of them,” Cleverly said. “Every year, we see more and more generosity from and for this community as we put this event together and we are excited to see it continue to grow!”