By Virginia Lester
The primary mission of the Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness (PREP) group is to provide a public educational forum for developing, promoting, increasing and maintaining individual and community capacity to respond to emergencies that affect our community.
Our motto is “neighbors helping neighbors.” These concepts are very difficult to get our heads around; especially when we must plan for something we hope will never happen, such as earthquakes or tsunamis. PREP supports classes for Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Point Roberts Auxiliary Communications Service (PRACS).
A grant from Puget Sound Energy allowed us to realize an active ham radio communication system that includes our own repeater with generator power for backup. Support for Ham licensing exams and ham radios are made available for interested members.
Every week participants have a “net” check-in as a means of practice for licensed ham operators. The network has been able to notify members about security concerns such as power outages.
During the heavy rainy season last winter, CERT members were called out by fire chief Carleton to help prepare sand bags for residents in danger of flooding.
Chief Carleton provided two training exercises that will prepare PREP members for assisting the fire department during a disaster. PREP has approximately 40 certified CERT members and 24 responded to a Whatcom County muster. Point Roberts had the largest turn out in the county.
A CERT class was presented by members of the Bellingham team on use of FRS radios and traffic management during emergencies. They also displayed a prototype for a disaster trailer that might be available for future PREP projects. Speakers from Delta, Bellingham and Point Roberts have also increased our knowledge about disasters.
PREP members have participated in many community activities. The July 4 pancake breakfast is our main fundraising activity, which proved to be quite successful. Our booth was present at community activities such as the Arts and Music Festival and Fire 5 Department Open House.
PREP meets the first Tuesday of every month, 7 p.m. in the community center. New members are always welcomed.