in October of 2014, as a Disaster Medicine planner and responder, I posted an article in MyEdmondsNews regarding Ebola and the potential for a future catastrophic and devastating worldwide contagion. In that script, I stated the unpopular notion that our health care system nationally and locally was not prepared; inadequately trained, inadequately staffed and inadequately supplied.
Now, as we begin to slowly emerge from our homes and from under the darkness of COVID, we see where this lack of foresight and attention to planning has taken us. What also comes to my mind is the nasty four-letter word emergency response planners disdain: That word is wait.
Frankly, I am tired of waiting. I am tired of waiting for serious time and properly focused attention to reality-based, not “it-could-never-happen-here in Edmonds”-based, disaster planning. As we have experienced, even sleepy little Edmonds is not immune to disaster. This last year has demonstrated it is time for someone, a leader, to step up and recognize we cannot afford to WAIT for the county, the state or the federal government to race to our rescue in a complex disaster. The bureaucratic “shell game” of who-is-responsible-for-what must end.
We finally have a qualified candidate in Janelle Cass running for Edmonds City Council who recognizes the need for an “E-CEMP”, an “Edmonds-focused”-Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, that addresses multiple potential hazards, from fires to windstorms, to earthquakes and tsunamis, to train derailments and power failures, and even to evacuation. Janelle possesses the know-how through her Air Force Academy Civil Engineering degree, her training and her hazardous materials experience to address our woefully neglected Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). It is out of date, unpracticed, references a non-existing agency and is lacking oversight and regulatory accountability.
As a longtime resident of Edmonds with a studied understanding of disaster planning, response and community-based resilience and recovery, I urge you to vote for Janelle Cass. Of the candidates, only Janelle recognizes the urgent need for a practical, well-thought-out, collaborative Edmonds CEMP with the multi-agency training and practice necessary to enable Edmonds residents and businesses to return to normal post-emergency as efficiently and rapidly as possible.
Robert Mitchell, MD
Director, Disaster Medicine Project