More than 350 people representing local governments, community organizations, and concerned residents within King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are working to improve resources and access to information for residents across the region during an emergency, particularly those with physical, language, economic, or cultural barriers.
Meeting in Auburn today, attendees at the first ever Seattle Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Vulnerable Populations Disaster Planning Conference worked to coordinate disaster planning efforts and timely emergency communication options for vulnerable populations in the tri-county area.
“When disaster strikes, everyone is vulnerable, but some more so than others –especially where language differences or other barriers make it harder to get critical supplies or information to those in need,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who gave opening remarks. “Whether it’s using community networks or going door-to-door, we are learning how we can best mobilize our regional resources to save lives and aid recovery.”
A federal grant enabled the all-day event, during which attendees heard from national and regional disaster planning experts and took part in workshops for identifying core competencies for social service agencies, partnering with ethnic media outlets to reach residents, and identifying next steps for disaster recovery planning.
The conference featured three topic tracks: Transportation; Notification and Warning; and Social and Human Services Agency Emergency Preparedness – all aimed at getting the region, and at-risk populations in particular, better prepared to respond to and recover from disaster.
By bringing policy-makers, emergency management professionals, and community leaders together, organizers facilitated rich discussions of best practices, shared tools, and efficient processes for pre-planning emergency procedures between diverse organizations. Established partnerships among these various agencies, and development of their individual response plans, will connect residents most in need with municipal and community resources, creating a safer and more resilient region.