The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

By Beau Renfro
Coordinator, Department of Emergency Management 

Making communities safer from disasters


November 9, 2017

This is the fourth part of my disaster preparedness series, and this week I am going to discuss how you can "GET INVOLVED."

In the face of emergencies and disaster, Americans come together with courage, compassion and unity and ask, "How can I help?"

There are many ways to get involved, especially before a disaster occurs. Each resident can participate in activities to make their families, homes and communities safer and more prepared.

The formula for ensuring a safer and more resilient community consists of volunteers that are trained and informed on how to help themselves and their neighbors. In times of disaster this will help the public to become a force multiplier and support emergency response agencies. Major disasters will overwhelm first responder agencies, empowering individuals to lend support.

So get involved before disaster strikes! Below are examples of some of the local emergency services groups you may be interested in getting involved with:

--Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS) enhance public safety through citizen involvement; promote emergency preparedness; promote crime prevention; and assist the sheriff's office as needed in other tasks.

--Wahkiakum County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES "HAM") serves the public by providing public service communications in times of need during natural or man-made disasters. HAM's are licensed amateur radio volunteers who dedicate their time, equipment, knowledge, and training for the betterment of public safety and give aid to those in need.

--Fire and EMS agencies perform fire suppression, wildland fire fighting, rescue/extrication, swift water rescue and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

--Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) initial task is to develop an emergency plan to prepare for and respond to hazardous materials related emergencies and to fulfill the community right to know act.

--Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

--Reserve sheriff's deputies are a volunteer organization of individuals who provide the sheriff's office with additional law enforcement resources to better serve our citizens. A reserve deputy has peace officer powers while on duty, in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington.

--Search & Rescue (SAR) is a group of trained volunteers that search for and provide aid to people who are lost, in distress or imminent danger. Our team is comprised of several different specialty subdivisions to include field searchers, SAR dogs, ATV's, 4X4 and horse team.

--American Red Cross: Every single day, the American Red Cross helps people in emergencies. Whether it's one displaced family, thousands of disaster victims, or providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran or support to a military family member.

These represent only a few of the many ways that you can get involved to help prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

I challenge every resident of Wahkiakum County take the opportunity to get involved with a local volunteer organization within this wonderful community of ours. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in volunteering, and I will get you in touch with the correct person.

If you have any questions or for more information on the item I have discussed in this article, contact me, Beau Renfro, at, 360-795-7876, 360-465-2202 or visit my website at:


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