Pierce County Pulse
Featured Story
Pierce County Emergency Operations Center with mobile command unit

Inaugural eNewsletter from Pierce County DEM

Welcome to the Pulse! Pierce County Department of Emergency Management (PCDEM) is pleased to send our first newsletter targeted for our partners, cities and towns.  This newsletter will be sent quarterly featuring upcoming training opportunities, information on PCDEM staff and programs, preparedness tips, featured cities and other information targeted to increase communication. 

Please contact Sarah Foster at [email protected] if you have a success story you’d like to share with other communities or if there is additional information you would like to see featured in future additions.

The Pulse eNewsletter will be distributed quarterly – to add additional recipients to the mailing list, please follow the link below.

Director's Briefing

Welcome to the Pulse!

The DEM team is pleased to launch this newsletter to increase communication with our communities and Homeland Security Region 5 partners. Our intent is to begin conversations about changes and new projects that DEM is undertaking, to share available training courses, new information from around the region and across the county, and to highlight regional partners and communities. We want this to be a two way conversation. So, in addition to the newsletter, we’ll be increasing one-on-one conversations and opportunities for all of us to get together.

Each Pierce County community that contracts with DEM for emergency management services has been assigned a DEM Point-of-Contact (POC).  We used to call them city liaisons, but wanted to clarify the role.  Your POC will serve as a focal point to hear your needs and communicate request to the appropriate DEM Division. If you have ideas or suggestions, don’t hesitate to let your POC or me know.  

Upcoming Training & Exce
Looking for training?  Visit https://wa-train.train.org
and register. On the site, you can:
  • Quickly find and register for many courses listed on Train.org and participating TRAIN affiliate sites,
  • Track your learning with personal online transcripts,
  • Access valuable materials, course reviews, and discussions to improve your learning experience, and
  • Stay informed of the latest all-hazards and hazard-specific training for your area of expertise.
PC logo with training information

IS-100/700/200 Combination Class

(Minimum of 10 needed) Courses also available online at www.training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp

To Register go to: 

08:00 – 16:30
Three sessions offered in 2017-

June 21, September 19, and December 7

Other class offerings and information is available on our website at www.piercecountywa.org/PCDEMTraining.

If you have questions or training needs, please contact Training & Exercises coordinator Bob Dolhanyk at [email protected] or 253-798-2108.

Preparedness Tip
Bucket with emergency preparedness items

Be Prepared in 2017!

Here is an idea: Resolve to take one hour each month to do one activity for disaster readiness. 

1.   Make an action plan.  Discover what disasters you are most likely to experience in your area. Discuss with your family what you would do in each event.

2. Identify an out-of-area-contact person everyone would call if you can’t get in touch with each other.

3.   Store enough water for you family for at least two weeks—one gallon per person a day. Remember your pets.

4.   Build an emergency supply kit for your family that includes extra food, medicine, clothing, and shelter.  Keep in sturdy container that is easily carried and store near an exit door.

5.    Make photo-copies of important documents, store in a ziplock container and kept in your emergency kit or your wallet.

6.    Have supplies for extended events such as extra batteries, cooking supplies, sanitation, and shelter.

7.    Keep an under-the-bed kit with items such as sturdy shoes, work gloves, a hardhat, a flashlight and extra batteries.  Keep it under your bed (or near it) to quickly grab in the middle of the night when the power is off.

8.    Learn how to safely shut off power and natural gas.

9.    Identify where you would go in each room to drop-cover-and hold-on in the event of an earthquake.

10. Understand principles of fire safety and practice them.

11. Understand what is meant by “Shelter-in-Place” and how you would do it at your home or workplace.

12. last, but not least, have a home hazard hunt to find areas in your home that are potential hazards and what you can do to make them safer.
To find out more and resolve in 2017 to be better for the hazards we face today: www.piercecountywa.org/prepare. 

What's New at DEM

How to reach a Duty Officer

Pierce County Department of Emergency Management’s business hours are Monday - Friday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm.  However, because of the diverse responsibilities of the department, our mission is not suspended at the end of the work day.  It is vital we maintain a 24/7 operation as a means to respond and coordinate the unique needs of the region whenever they arise.

This is where our Duty Officer comes into action.  There is a cadre of trained Duty Officers that rotate on a weekly basis to cover the needs of the County.  These Duty Officers are on call and respond to incidents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.  The Duty Officer provides consistent Emergency Management coverage to meet the requirements of the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, a multitude of activities including HazMat spills,Search and Rescue requests, Alert and Warning through mass notification, and for timely activation of the Emergency Operations Center. 

The Duty Officer is the designated representative of the department and is authorized to act as an initial receiving and reaction point of contact.

If you ever have an Emergency Management need or request, a Duty Officer can be reached at any time by calling (253) 798-7470 or emailing [email protected]

Map of western Washington with area codes

New area code and 10 digit dialing

Western Washington is getting a new area code.  The 564 area code will overlay the 360 area code and eventually expand to the 206, 253, and 425 area codes.

The overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code, but does require a new dialing procedure.  Beginning January 28, 2017, to complete local calls in western Washington callers are encouraged to dial the area code + the 7-digit telephone number.                                                         This new procedure will be required on July 29, 2017.  

Beginning at the end of August, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 564 area code.
Installed lahar monitoring system technology.

Upgrades to Lahar Warning System

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has identified Mount Rainier as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and Pierce County is taking steps to improve the warning system to keep residents safe.  
Lahars (volcanic mudflows), are the primary hazard during eruptions of Mount Rainier.  They are formed by the melting of snow and ice during eruptions and from large landslides.   

Pierce County Department of Emergency Management (PCDEM), in partnership with the USGS, has completed the first phase of a multi-phase plan to upgrade and expand equipment for the Mount Rainier Lahar Warning System (LWS).  The current system is functioning well, but these improvements will enable PCDEM, USGS, and other partners to provide better and timelier life-safety information to the people that live, work, and play in the areas around Mount Rainier.

The LWS is part of an overall emergency communications system for Pierce County. The focus of the system is to detect volcanic and seismic activity on Mount Rainier and warn residents in the Puyallup and Carbon river drainages of the need to evacuate due to a lahar or other related volcanic activity.

After the 2014 State Route 530 Landslide in Snohomish County, former Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy asked for a risk and readiness review of the LWS to ensure it provides as much warning as possible to the residents of the river valleys fed by Mount Rainier.  The planned updates to the instrumentation will provide technological upgrades to the detection monitors close to Mount Rainier.  These monitors detect debris flows and provide advanced warning to residents downstream.

Executive McCarthy praised members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation for their efforts to raise awareness of the danger that a Mount Rainier lahar presents and to advocate for additional resources to create a more effective and robust system.  “Senators Murray and Cantwell and Congressman Kilmer have been instrumental in advocating for funding of the needed upgrades. On behalf of the over 830,000 residents of Pierce County and the nearly 3 million people that live in close proximity to what USGS has categorized as the most dangerous volcano in North America, I want to express a heartfelt thank you.”

It is anticipated that USGS and PCDEM will continue working on the next phase of the upgrades in 2017.

Mount Rainier has produced multiple lahars that traveled down the river valleys to the Puget Sound lowland.  If this were to happen today, the communities in the river valleys, such as Orting, Sumner, Puyallup and Fife, could be completely destroyed, with loss of life in the tens of thousands. Interstate Highway 5 and the Port of Tacoma could also be out of service for an indefinite time with significant impact to the financial health of the Puget Sound Region.

In the early 1990s, USGS, in partnership with Pierce County, established the pilot project lahar early warning system in the Carbon and Puyallup River valleys.  This system currently has 5 lahar sensors in each valley which are connected to 27 warning sirens around the larger communities downstream. Although the larger communities have sirens for early warning of a lahar, many other communities and popular gathering areas in the lahar hazard area do not have any sirens.  

Community Spotlight
Picture of Pat Donovan in his office

Introducing Puyallup's new Emergency Manager 

Pat Donovan started on October 1, 2016, as the new Manager with the City of Puyallup Emergency Management.

He retired from Central Pierce Fire & Rescue after a 31.5 year fire service career. Pat started in Spanaway, lateraled to Puyallup in 1991, and was part of the annexation into Central Pierce in 2009. He retired as Assistant Chief of Operations, having promoted through the ranks, including serving as a paramedic.

Pat participated in many multi-company operations and worked in Emergency Operations Centers through the years on local weather and fire-related incidents. He’s currently on the Pierce County type 3 incident management team and participated in the deployment to assist Okanagan County with wildland fires in 2014.  Pat expressed excited about this new chapter in his career and the variety of challenges and opportunities that emergency management work provides.

Pat has been married to his wife Tricia for 30 years. They have two boys, Ryan and Connor, who are both attending Portland State University. Tricia and Pat have a dog that they hang out with when they are not working. Pat has also serviced on the Puyallup School Board since early 2009.

We look forward to working with Pat in this new role and tapping into his expertise to benefit all of Homeland Security Region 5!

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