City preps for the ‘real thing’

Volunteers prepare for the third annual emergency preparedness drill, which took place on Wednesday, Sept. 22. - Photos courtesy of MIPD
Volunteers prepare for the third annual emergency preparedness drill, which took place on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
— image credit: Photos courtesy of MIPD

Emergency drills and preparation are fast becoming a habit for the city of Mercer Island, and it seems that the third time is the charm.

“It was really well done and went much smoother this year,” Emergency Preparedness Officer Jennifer Franklin said of Wednesday’s drill.

The three-hour session simulated the first day of a catastrophic 6.7-magnitude earthquake along the Seattle fault line, which runs under Mercer Island.

Franklin commended the 34 registered volunteers — from professionals who took time off work to retirees who changed their daily routines — who participated in the drill. In addition to the registered volunteers, all city staff and many other community members turned out for the drill.

The exercise also included the Mercer Island School District and Puget Sound Energy, which communicated via ham radio.

The Council Chambers served as the main operations center with city staff while volunteers communicated via ham radio at City Hall, opened a mock community shelter in the Community Center at Mercer View and operated the emergency well at Rotary Park.

Technology caused the only minor disruption of the day, although it shouldn’t be an issue next year, she said.

The current incident management software, which was created in-house about eight years ago, is out of date and the system is ready for an upgrade, which will likely be done next year, she said.

The 2010 budget contains $17,000 that is budgeted toward a new system.

Still, most city officials and emergency personnel live on the mainland and would be unable to immediately help Island residents.

For that reason, city officials strongly suggest that Mercer Island residents have the necessary supplies to be self-sufficient for at least one week.

Islanders have been lucky so far. There have been severe storms and power outages that have forced residents to alter their resources, but nothing on a catastrophic level, she said.

“When you actually see it work like this, it paid off,” Franklin said of all the work put into the one-day simulation. “Everyone knew the plan.”

The real goal, she said, is to get Mercer Island residents prepared.

In case of a real disaster, the emergency operation center will be based out of City Hall at 9611 S.E. 36th Street. The court room will serve as a volunteer meeting area, and a shelter site will be available at the Community Center at Mercer View at 8236 S.E. 24th Street.

Contact Jennifer Franklin, emergency preparedness officer, at (206) 275-7905 or for more information, or visit

In case of an emergency

In the event of an emergency or widespread disaster on the Island, here are some helpful numbers:

• Emergency: 911

• Non-emergency police: (206) 275-7610

• Non-emergency fire: (206) 275-7607

• Puget Sound Energy: 1-888-225-5773

• Emergency Operations Center at City Hall: (206) 275-7600

• Shelter site at CCMV (8236 S.E. 24th Street)

• Radio stations: KIRO 710 AM, KOMO 1000 AM

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