By Erin E. Cooper | Concordia/Vernon/Woodlawn Neighborhood Emergency Team
In Portland, neighborhood emergency teams (NETs) are most often associated with earthquake preparedness and response.
Although that is often what draws people to volunteer and train for NET – and is a focus in training – NETs are also ready to respond to all kinds of large and small emergencies. For instance, in the past year, some of the ways NET members have volunteered include:
- Maintaining a safe perimeter around downed power lines until power company employees arrive
- Controlling traffic and monitoring patients at COVID-19 vaccination clinics
- Staffing warming shelters in the winter and cooling shelters in the summer
- Collecting donations of personal protective equipment and other supplies for first responders in the early stages of COVID-19
- Staffing evacuation shelters during Oregon’s 2020 forest fires
- Organizing and volunteering for mutual aid groups, including organizing and distributing food donations and other supplies
- Assisting at the Multnomah County Emergency Coordination Center with COVID-19 operations
Team members have also participated in thousands of hours of advanced training over the last year. Many of these topics are those associated with traditional disaster preparation, such as first aid and maintaining post-earthquake sanitation.
Other types of training have been made available to NETs in response to the needs of Portland’s population and the evolving role of NETs to assist in our communities. These trainings have covered topics such as diversity and equity in leadership, coping with trauma, building community resilience and building cultural competency.
There are currently over 2,000 active NET members on 87 neighborhood teams across Portland. Joining NET is a straightforward, multi-step process that starts by visiting PortlandOregon.gov/pbem/31667 to sign up.
In-person classes are suspended for the time being, but it’s possible to do the majority of the free training online. You’ll be able to complete the final – and most fun – hands-on portion of the training when it is safe to conduct in-person classes again.
Erin E. Cooper is a marine biologist living in Woodlawn. She spends a lot of time thinking about disasters and has been a NET member for many years. Contact her at OceanListener@gmail. com.