After a disaster has struck, civilians will be in need of medical care, food, shelter and information. But, as history has proven, accessing these things becomes an immediate challenge.
That is why several Ferndale neighbors gathered in the Ferndale Emergency Operations Center Saturday and etched out a game plan for pulling together teams of volunteers from different organizations to form the cleverly yet accurately named, Ferndale Emergency Response Network (FERN).
The initial meeting agenda was to introduce the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to potential volunteers and to also incorporate the existing Ferndale Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) into their means of communication after a disaster.
The meeting was led by Ferndale ACS member and Ferndale City councilmember Cathy Watson along with Whatcom County CERT Program Manager Greg Hope. Meeting attendees were enthusiastic and discussion expanded to the possibility of creating a Ferndale organization that would constantly be recruiting and providing training to new volunteers, acquiring and managing equipment, providing ongoing training and exercises for volunteers and obtain official recognition from government and emergency response agencies to be able to qualify for available grants.
The recommendation to name the group, Ferndale Emergency Response Network, was quickly embraced as accurate while reflecting the Ferndale-centric orientation of the group. Some meeting attendees said they would reach out to City of Ferndale as well as Whatcom County Fire District 7 officials to make them aware of the undertaking that was just beginning.
The group agreed to continue meeting on the first Saturday of each month at 10am in the Emergency Operations Center (located in the Ferndale Police Department building).
Following the discussion, attendees participated in an exercise where they took up positions at schools around the city to test and practice radio communications with a communications coordinator who stayed in the Emergency Operations Center.