Gathering Summary: Bigfork Emergency Readiness Discussion, July 20, 2011

by Catherine Haug, July 23, 2011

There was very poor turnout: MonaRae and I were the only ESPers in attendance. Nevertheless, we had a good short discussion with our emergency experts. I took a few notes from that discussion, included below.

Some good points for further discussion were touched upon:

  • Meet and work with groups like Elks, Rotary, etc. to mobilize the community;
  • Work with churches and schools to procure generators, so they can be good emergency shelters;
  • Get to know the seniors in your neighborhood; help them fill out a ‘My Medications List’ and a 4-day grab and go pack, and in general to prepare for disaster.

Cat’s Notes

Discussion leaders present at event:

  • Marv Eaves, Ferndale Fire Department
  • 2 paramedics from Bigfork Fire Department (Wayne Loeffler was unable to attend)
  • Steve Stanley, Lake Co. Office of Emergency Services
  • Susan Kunda, Flathead Agency on Aging

[Cindy Mullaney, Flathead Co. Office of Emergency Services was unable to attend]

Q: How many people are unprepared?

  • A lot, especially people who didn’t grow up in the country – people who have lived all or most of their lives in metropolitan areas. Many don’t know how to cook because they eat all meals at fast food places. Most don’t know how to raise food (garden, etc.), and may not even know where food actually comes from.

Q: What about security issues?

  • Those who are not prepared, who have not stocked-up, will be hungry and could pose risk to those of us who are prepared.
  • About stocking the larder: Biblically speaking, one should be prepared for 7 years, but that might not be appropriate now. To survive, you need to be agile, ready to move as conditions change. 4 – 6 months worth of food and supplies is probably more realistic.
  • When disaster strikes, grocery stores only have 3-day supply of food; after that, people will starve, and will push toward more rural areas in search of food. This will lead to civil unrest.
  • One of the best ways to mobilize the community is to work with groups like Elks, Rotary, etc..

Q: What happens at the county level, in case of disaster?

  • Each individual county must declare [disaster], but Flathead and Lake Counties will cooperate with each other and share expertise.

Q: What can we do to assist emergency workers?

  • Fill out a My Medications List for each member of the family
  • Use reflective address signs. Bigfork Fire Department has a special order form for a $15 donation. Contact Bigfork Fire at 837-4590, 810 Grand Dr., Bigfork

Q: What about shelters? Are specific buildings designated?

  • Buildings like this one [Bethany Lutheran Church] would be excellent shelters during a disaster, with all this space for beds and a large kitchen to prepare meals. Such buildings should be equipped with a generator.
  • Schools could also be good shelters, and all should have a generator.

Q: How can seniors prepare?

  • A good place to start is to fill out a ‘My Medications List‘ (printable pdf from the UC Davis website). Both Susan from the Council on Aging, and the paramedics indicated this is a very useful form.

Q: What about hazardous materials?

For more information on preparedness

[NOTE: these links are also available on the right side of our main page, under “Preparedness.”]


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