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Arlington downtown businesses focus on Disaster Preparedness
ARLINGTON The city and its downtown merchants are aiming to be prepared for potential emergencies, but they need help from their citizens and neighbors to do it.
The Downtown Arlington Business Association and city of Arlington Emergency Management staff will be conducting a "Disaster Block Walk," June 23, from 1-3 p.m.
Local business "block captains" will walk their blocks, visiting with their business neighbors and looking for disaster hazards. This city-wide preparedness effort is part of the "Business Map Your Neighborhood" program.
Arlington Fire Chief Jim Rankin explained that this program is modeled on the "Washington State Map Your Neighborhood" program, and asked businesses to help out the city's first responders by making themselves better prepared to help care for themselves, and those around them, if and when disasters strike.
"This can be as simple as making sure people who are injured receive basic first aid, on up to helping conduct a sidewalk damage assessment that will be handed off to local officials doing their windshield surveys," Rankin said.
Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson pointed out that first responders can prioritize their assignments faster, "allowing us to do the most good for the most people," when more citizens, businesses and other organizations are involved in disaster preparedness themselves. She added that the city has partnered with Cascade Valley Hospital and the Arlington School District to accomplish the same goal, by coordinating their planning efforts.
"Having the Downtown Arlington Business Association join in, by promoting business preparedness in the downtown corridor, is an added bonus to Arlington becoming a disaster resilient city," Larson said.
Business block captains will walk along Olympic Avenue, west to Highway 9 and east to McLeod, June 23 with emergency managers, locating building water mains, electrical panels and gas shut-off valves, as well as identifying buildings that may have second-story residents. Emergency managers will share the "nine steps to business preparedness" with businesses on those blocks, and tutor the block captains on what to look for by conducting a "hazard hunt."
Because many blocks don't have block captains of their own, the block captains conducting the walk will be recruiting, with a goal of getting two captains signed up for each block.
"With two captains per block, the work and assessments will get done quickly," said Jeanne Watanabe, president of the Downtown Arlington Business Association. "Even if one person is gone, there's still a back up."
Downtown Arlington merchants should be on the lookout for a visit from a block captain June 23. Merchants will be able to tell block captain by their yellow hardhats and orange vests. Block captains will also come armed with preparedness handouts, upcoming training flyers and business cards.