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Emergency plan prepares Vashon Island

The many Island organizations and groups that work together in the event of an emergency have a better idea of how to do so, after Vashon’s first comprehensive emergency management plan was crafted through much collaboration this year.

The plan, a thick binder full of procedures for a number of contingencies, took hundreds of hours of volunteer and consultant time.

The result is a standardized set of procedures that make it easier for organizations to work together in a time of emergency or disaster. The comprehensive plan was crafted in compliance with the National Incident Management System.

“The most important thing about the plan is it tells you how everybody works together and the process for working together,” said Rick Wallace, vice president for operations of VashonBePrepared, an org-anization created to ready the Island for disaster or emergency.

“It gives us a structured way of thinking about an emergency so we can all work together,” he added.

Wallace was a major player in the development of the plan and one of dozens who helped to craft it. The group spent hours discussing the ins and outs of collaborations needed among entities — including VashonBePrepared, Vashon Island Fire & Rescue, Puget Sound Energy, the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Vashon Island School District — when a major emergency, such as the windstorms of December 2006, hits.

“At any kind of emergency, the scene of whatever the incident is is run in a very structured way,” Wallace said. “The whole thing can be very chaotic and involves a lot of people. They all have functions and need to work together. It takes a standard approach. The plan is constructed to this (National Incident Management Sys-tem) standard.”

The plan has been envisioned for years, Wallace said: VashonBePrepared vol-

unteers had hoped to craft one like it but were unable to do the work required to assemble the comprehensive plan in as much detail as they’d like.

Fire Chief Hank Lipe, who came to the Island a year ago from a New Hampshire community located a mile from a nuclear power plant, pushed for the funding to create the definitive emergency plan for the Island. Lipe had a hand in the Hampton, N.H., emergency preparedness efforts and said Vashon needed a plan as well.

At a cost of $25,000, funded by Vashon Island Fire & Rescue, the plan was drawn up in the last seven months, Lipe said. He’s ecstatic the plan is complete, he added.

“It took a lot of hard work,” he said.

Wallace added that he, too, is glad the emergency guidelines are in place.

“People who have been here any length of time know that we could have to deal with an emergency of some kind on our own,” Wallace said. “That’s why the plan is important: it helps us all to work together on the Island to make the most of what we’ve got, and it also makes it possible if we get help from off-Island to plug them in as easily and effectively as possible.”

“The mere process of going through and creating the plan has helped us all to come closer together and be able to work better together,” he added. “It’s a symbolic victory for Vashon.”

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