June 5, 2023

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed


Exercise & Evaluation Program

The Whole Community Support FEMA-compliant Exercise and Evaluation Program creates multiple entry points for individuals and small groups from the Whole Community to become involved:

  • Small group discussion and operational exercises (winter, summer)
  • Neighborhood-wide discussion and operational exercises (spring)
  • Large-scale all-city operational exercises (fall).

Recent small-group discussion exercises focus on alerts, evacuation zones, and evacuation routes:

Members of neighborhood groups have also recently presented the following trainings, discussion exercises, and field exercises:

  • Individual preparedness
  • Nearby neighbor preparedness  
  • Emergency radio communications
  • Information Security Awareness 

FEMA recommends regular evaluations as opportunities for continuous improvement, and offers a variety of templates for meetings and reports.

ICS For Neighborhoods

Members of the FEMA-endorsed Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) living within each neighborhood are trained to communicate with professional emergency management teams. Many of their “civilian” neighbors are not. That is why the CERTs take the lead in organizing themselves using the Incident Command System with familiar ICS titles.

The ICS structure includes a Communications Unit Leader with specific responsibilities. This team includes ham radio operators who communicate with the local Emergency Operations Center during an event.

Each role has a clear set of responsibilities and tasks. This saves time and reduces the interpersonal conflict that can occur as individuals negotiate their roles within the group—which often continues as each new volunteer joins the group.

After filling these ICS roles during the initial response, the neighborhood team hands off to incoming professional emergency management teams. To help the incoming teams be as effective as possible, neighborhood volunteers serving in ICS roles debrief the person(s) succeeding them in those roles.

Public Information Officers (PIOs) serving within those ICS teams know that the average adult reads at about an eighth-grade level. During the stress of a disaster, comprehension can drop by several grade levels. These CERTs are trained to recognize that during the emergency is not always the best time to learn new skills. We have many opportunities to learn and practice before the disaster event.

Adopting these roles while serving as the neighborhood preparedness committee allows the persons in those roles to practice working together as ICS teams before the disaster. This also means that the ICS system is always “activated,” empowering volunteers to practice whenever convenient.

While the CERTs adopt ICS titles, and view groups of neighbors as “Resource Teams” conducting operations under the Operations Chief (while also documenting their time and progress), other neighborhood volunteers are free to adopt any organization familiar and comfortable to them.

Corporate volunteers may organize based on workplace relationships. Those familiar with nonprofits or government may organize as ad hoc committees or as councils using Robert’s Rules of Order. Others may take on individual projects with project managers; or adopt the 1-2-3 group consensus process. Those volunteers can self-organize in many different ways.

However the neighborhood volunteers choose to organize in response to the current need, CERTs can support their neighbors and continue to gain experience with ICS roles by participating in exercises conducted at different scales through the Exercise and Evaluation program.

Sharing Public Information

Neighborhoods regularly share public information from the City of Eugene through print, radio, TV, websites, and social media. In partnership with local 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including advocates for the homeless, local community radio station KEPW 97.3 FM, and The Corporation for Public Community Newspapers, these public information efforts expanded to include civic journalists reporting neighborhood news.

Whole Community News is an award-winning news service with reporting on public comments, boards and commissions, neighborhoods and nonprofits, and preparedness efforts throughout the metro area.

The PIO team’s video productions summarize Zoom webinars that we organized and hosted, featuring such partners as local fire officials, wildland firefighters, OSU Extension specialists, and speakers from environmental and climate change organizations.

Time Bank

A time bank is a network of individual, organizational, and business ‘members’ who provide services, track and bank their hours, and then spend those hours to meet their own needs. There is no barter or exchange; one member does a friendly, neighborly favor for another and records the time they spent doing so. Members share their talents and services, record their hours, then ‘spend’ them later on services they want. Everyone’s hours are treated as equal in value.

After seeing a TED talk about how a New Zealand time bank helped its community recover from two major earthquakes, Southeast Neighbors helped create the First Non-Profit Time Bank of Eugene to help our own community prepare for and recover from future events. The Time Bank can also contribute to community resilience. Acknowledging the volunteer-hour contributions gives the Whole Community an opportunity to further build relationships among nearby neighbors.

Whole Community News

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Whole Community News