“We’re set up to coordinate response and recovery efforts during a local emergency or disaster,” Lynne Miller, the Public Information Officer for King County Office of Emergency Management (KCOEM), said.
The RCECC, housed in a building able to withstand major earthquakes, serves as a coordination hub for situational awareness, strategic planning, resource management, and public information.
Depending on the severity of the disaster, the RCECC activates at appropriate staffing levels to simply monitor the situation or fully operate 24/7.
“We have the ability to adjust our level of activation based on the situation. During a catastrophic event, it would be all hands on deck and we could be working around the clock for months,” Miller said.
A typical activation for a severe winter storm involves two 12-hour operational periods per day, for several days. Response and recovery activities are coordinated with multiple organizations, including County departments, cities, utility companies, and the American Red Cross.
The RCECC relies on the availability of King County employees to assist KCOEM staff carry out emergency coordination responsibilities.
“You don’t have to be a part of emergency management on a day-to-day basis to help the County and its residents recover from a widespread incident,” Miller said.
Miller recommends employees prepare themselves and their families by assembling a home emergency kit and developing a family communication plan.
“Knowing your family is safe during an emergency frees you from distractions that would otherwise hinder your ability to be effective on the job,” Miller said.
When the center isn’t in full activation, it’s working with cities, tribes, special purpose districts, and other stakeholders to engage in regional planning and conduct trainings.
The RCECC also hosts exercises involving County departments and regional partners to test plans and procedures.
If you’re looking for a last minute gift for the holidays, Miller recommends you consider individual emergency supply kits for home, auto, and office.
“Disasters can have significant impacts on access to services we normally take for granted. A little bit of planning beforehand not only gives you peace of mind, it ensures you’ll be more likely to make it through the next emergency,” Miller said
For more information on preparing for winter weather emergencies, visit TakeWinterByStorm.org. For an emergency checklist, click here.