All hands on deck for Emergency Alert and Ham Radio teams

You probably had no idea that people were talking to each other all over the island on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Take the Emergency Alert Team Test

Would you like to be in the know and get early word of power outages, road closures, ferry disruptions, severe storms, and earthquakes?

Would you like to provide vital safety advice to your neighbors and the community during these emergencies?

Would you like to do all that at home from your desk or easy chair, staying warm and cozy, even during bad weather?

If you can say yes to any of those questions, you pass the test!

You are qualified to be a genuine Vashon hero by helping out on the Voice of Vashon Emergency Alert Team. It only requires having internet service and a device such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. It’s easy and you get training and hand-holding while you learn the ropes.

The Emergency Alert Team was founded after the severe Hanukkah Eve windstorm of 2006 when all island electricity was out for more than three days, and it took 11 days before all power was restored. Inspired by the need to keep our community informed, a hardy band of volunteers got together to create the island’s Emergency Alert Service.

To this day, it remains a 100% volunteer effort, and some of the original crew members are still serving. But life goes on and people move on, so the team is currently short-handed and needs more members to do the job. Get involved, and know you are doing a great service for the community. To find out more, email, and be sure to include your email and phone number.

Ham Radio Activation Drill

You probably had no idea that people were talking to each other all over the island on Sunday, Nov. 19. If you could listen in, you would have heard Vashon’s Auxiliary Communications Service team holding an activation drill. The team of Ham Radio operators was called out to participate in the drill, via the CodeRED software alerting system that is used by VashonBePrepared coalition member groups to activate our volunteers in an emergency.

With the push of a web browser button, each Ham Radio operator got a landline call, a cellphone call, a text, or an email. Some got all four!

Even if an earthquake has degraded or shut down traditional communications, the highly redundant CodeRED system stands a good chance of getting through. In the call-out, the operators were told to check in using their two-way radios and report their availability to go to work if the emergency was happening right then. Fifteen island Hams reported being ready for deployment — an excellent result.

Michael Meyer and John Galus worked as net control operators for the drill, with each taking one of the island’s two radio repeaters. Those repeater stations ensure reliability by providing redundancy and overlapping coverage of the island’s hills and valleys that can block radio signals. Ham radio has many times shown that it works despite earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and more. Hence the motto: “When all else fails, Ham Radio.”

Basic COVID Risk Level

The COVID hospitalization rate remains below the trigger point for an increase in the risk level of our advice tool.

The updated COVID vaccine aims to prevent severe disease and hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the latest version of the vaccine for everyone six months and older.

At the Basic Risk Level, wear an N95 mask indoors in public if you are exposed to COVID, at risk for health or other reasons, or live or spend time with someone at high risk.

Get the updated COVID and flu vaccines, and maintain good ventilation at home and at work.

Avoid those with suspected or confirmed COVID. If exposed to COVID, wear a mask in public and avoid contact with those at high risk for 10 days.

Always home-test if you have symptoms. If you test positive, isolate for at least five days and until you test negative. Also check in right away with your doctor about treatment, even if your symptoms are initially mild.

If immunocompromised, discuss additional preventive actions with your healthcare provider.

The VashonBePrepared COVID Risk Advice Tool aggregates data in our exposure area of King and Pierce counties. The primary metric evaluated by the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps is the COVID hospitalization rate because public health agencies reliably report that.