Situational awareness – your broader neighborhood


Do you hear sirens go by somewhere near your home and wonder where they’re going? Are they coming to your neighborhood? You could go for a walk or drive to try to find out but that’s tricky and you don’t want to get in the way. A better alternative is to use the City of Bellevue traffic cameras:

To make it easy to pull them up whenever you like, create a shortcut or favorite for that link

When you open that link you can click on any camera and see a little video in the lower left corner. But if you right-mouse click it, select “Show all controls”. Then in the lower right corner of the video window if you click the ‘hamburger’ menu, you’ll see a “Picture in Picture” option. Select it and you’ll get a separate camera window that you resize up to one quarter of your screen’s size. So you can see what’s going on in considerable detail.

You can also click on other cameras on the map and see them using that larger window.

Note: the video will stop after about 90 seconds. You can click on the original video window to get it to start again. Or click on the camera on the map. And there’s a little Play button on the bottom of the large video window.

3 stages of preparedness?


You might have heard there are 3 simples steps to being prepared: knowing your hazards, make a plan, and build kits. Very good advice, but I suggest there should be two more: training and testing. I know we want to keep the steps simple, and 3 steps are certainly simpler than 5. But is it realistic?

An addiitoinal important step is to train appropriately, as in first aid. Or even watching videos. Preferably CERT, FEMA courses, etc. And actually trying the preparations is key! That can be as simple as camping, even in your back yard. I know I’m more serious than most, but I do that kind of testing in various ways fairly frequently and I always find room for improvement. Without it I’m sure I would find that I was nowhere clear to being prepared if something actually happened.

The inspiration for this post was a new video that is quite good:
It needs some editing (skip the first 10 minutes). And it’s quite long, so skip to parts you’re interested in. The stages discussion is around 1 hour 17 minutes into it.

Protecting your house from fire


As I’m sure you know, the wildfire season was nasty this year. Fortunately that led to a fair bit of news coverage on the topic and that includes a couple of articles I came across in The Economist that I found useful. Some internet searching confirmed their details are good guidance.

In Bellevue we might think wildfires are not an issue, and generally that’s true (except maybe a worst-case August). However, as an earthquake-concerned area, we should take fires very seriously. From your knowledge of the history of serious earthquakes around the world you might know that most of the deaths (by far) are actually from fires.

A key point I learned is that “Zone 0″ is the most important one (within 5 feet of your residence). So don’t keep flammable stuff in that area. Or move it away if fires are a concerns. Or even in the house. There are bunch of sites that support that point, but this one seemed particularly articulate on it”

The Economist also says that evidence shows that somewhere between 60% and 90% of wildfire house fires are caused by embers flying hundreds of yards. So minimizing those issues could help – use the most fire-resistant roofing materials, minimize gaps under roofs (where they could get in), vent filtering, heat-resistant windows, etc. I don’t have supporting evidence on those points but they’re consistent with the other points.

My uninformed opinion is that as CERT responders one of the most important activities we could do in a serious earthquake response is to address the above issues (reduce zone 0 risks, respond to embers, etc.). And as we educate the public, encourage those and the other points as well.

What is first aid training?


Or maybe we should ask “how much first aid training is enough?”.

I organize and take a lot of first aid training (long story) and in my opinion, we shouldn’t underestimate how much first aid training is needed. On the other hand, with luck you’ll rarely need to apply first aid and when you do it’s likely to be minor, so it could be a waste of time to take a lot of training. Ultimately we have to decide for ourselves how much is enough.

A key point I’d like to make is that no matter how much first aid training you’ve had, you could benefit from more. That’s even true if you’re an emergency room doctor with many years of experience.

There are multiple reasons I say that:
– first aid is more than just medical procedures. It’s also the process of caring for injured people and the people responding to them. Organization, planning, communications, and documentation in the course of a response are critical and yet are rarely included in first aid training
– emergency first aid is usually done in harsh and potentially dangerous circumstances
– knowledge is perishable and yet you likely don’t practice your first aid skills frequently
– the human body is complex and can be broken in innumerable ways
– practice is different from theory. In practice, serious first aid is stressful, intimate, complex, and often exhausting

And that gets us back to the original question – what is first aid training? The core training can be:
– a few hours of the basics. This is ok for around-the-house, normal-times issues
– 2 days of fairly comprehensive education and practice. This is ok for serious emergency issues
– 2 weeks of serious education and practice. This is great for serious emergency issues but it’s still just a start
– EMT training. You’re ready for almost anything but are limited in terms of how you can intervene
– Medic/paramedic training. And now you have a bunch of interventions you can do

Regardless of which of those you do, I strongly advocate that you regularly (monthly) review your training materials as a refresher. You really should re-take the training every couple of years (maybe in a compressed form).

Also, there are a LOT of resources available. Books, of course, but also quite a variety on the internet. Web sites, blogs, videos, apps, etc. They can be very handy for reviewing and even testing your knowledge. And you’ll never finish learning.

In a future post I’ll share some of my favorite places to get first aid training. What are your favorites?