PREP: Who you gonna call? Where you gonna go? Getting help in an emergency

By Raye Newmen

As we learned last December, disasters can happen here that disrupt our lives and endanger our homes. When the next incident occurs, what should you do? What questions do you need to ask and answer?

Is my telephone working?

During a power outage, cordless phones won’t work, but a simple, old-fashioned corded land line phone plugged into a telephone outlet can usually work. If you have one and a Whidbey Telecom account, use it! In many jurisdictions, 911 service will work without an account, but not here. In Point Roberts, without an account, you are out of luck.

How about my cell phone?

Cell service in Point Roberts is far from robust. Coverage can be spotty and the cell tower can become overloaded by high call volume and unable to accept your voice call. Try sending a text message first. Texting can often get through neighboring towers when voice calls cannot. If you do not get a response to your text, try a voice call and see if you can get through.

Who should you call?

If there is any threat to the health and well-being of any family member, dial 911 immediately. When you do reach 911, make sure to say you need Point Roberts 911 in the U.S. For non-emergency issues, you can report incidents and receive guidance through our fire district by calling: 360/945-FIRE (3473).

Should you remain in your home?

Has your house sustained damage and is no longer a suitable shelter? Is an event such as an approaching fire putting your house in danger? If so, grab your Go Kit and leave! (No Go Kit? We’ll tell you how to assemble one in a future article.) Many emergencies involve power outages as well. During severe weather conditions, long-term lack of power can make it difficult and uncomfortable to remain in your home. That’s particularly true for the elderly and those with medical conditions. If so, leave.

Where are you going to go?

If you have family or friends nearby who can accommodate you, and a means of getting there, that’s great. If not, Point Roberts offers a place of comfort and refuge for those who are unable to remain in their homes during an emergency: our community center. During wide spread power outages or natural disasters, the community center at 1487 Gulf Road becomes the place to go for warmth, information, community support and a hot meal. Call 360/945-5424 to determine if it is in operation, and head over. You will be welcomed. If you lack transportation, every effort will be made to pick you up as soon as roads are open.

If the community center is not in operation, call the fire district at 360/945-FIRE and follow the directions provided. No working phone? Head to the fire hall at 2030 Benson Road as soon as you can.

There is help and support available here in Point Roberts. Use it when you and your family need to. Meanwhile, become as self-reliant as you can. In subsequent articles, we will show you what you can do to become more resilient when the next incident occurs, as it will.

Announcement

A powerful means of becoming more self-sufficient and acquiring skills that can assist your family and enable you to benefit your community, is through the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training program. A class is being offered right here in Point Roberts, if a sufficient number of volunteers enroll. Please note the following announcement, and sign up!

CERT Training

The recent wind disaster in Point Roberts has prompted several people to inquire about Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. Disasters will occur without warning, and we need people to be able to assist the fire chief with immediate disaster support. Affected residents may need shelter, food and other assistance until expert disaster support can be deployed to Point Roberts. This means we will need to be able to fend for ourselves for as long as two to three weeks.

We will be offering a Basic CERT Training class in June or July. Possible dates: June 14, 15,16 or July 12, 13, 14. The class will be offered over three consecutive days starting on Friday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with lunch and dinner breaks.

Interested persons should call Virginia Lester, 360/945-2827, or Kandy Harper, 360/945-5144, to sign up. The class will be limited to 20 people.

(Raye Newman is president of the Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness group (PREP) See Coming Up for their meting times and places.)

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