“An advocate of preparedness, Lucia Schmit, Director of Snohomish County Emergency Management, has coordinated with leaders in King, Pierce, and Thurston counties to expand use of “Ready, Set, Go!” alerts during emergencies. The alerts originated from Fire 1, 2,3, which was understood by emergency personnel but not so much the public. “Ready, Set, Go!” has been used in Snohomish County since 2018. Now we have surrounding counties using the same system, which streamlines coordination and responses. In Snohomish County you should have the Snohomish County Alerts app on your phone.
It coordinates local, county, and state responses. Consider it “one stop shopping if you will. They can connect you with emergency services, relay emergency situations and do it much quicker than you can while trying to call multiple agencies.
“When I was a young child, my family had to evacuate our home to escape a wildfire. I know what an emotionally wrenching experience it can be—the uncertainty of whether to go and when. With the ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ messaging, we hope to alleviate some of that stress, and hope residents will take the time to learn what the different phases mean so they are able to spring into action when needed”, said Schmit.
What is Ready Set Go? It is simple:
“Ready” Phase (Level 1): Be aware of the danger in your area and start preparing for possible evacuation. Monitor local media and check on neighbors. If you do not already have an evacuation plan or a Go! kit, assemble these now. Conditions can change suddenly, and you may not receive a Level 2 “Be Set” warning before you are ordered to Level 3 “Go!” Prepare both the inside and outside of your home for fire. Leave if you feel unsafe — do not wait for an official evacuation order.
“Set” Phase (Level 2): Be prepared for sudden or short-notice evacuation. People who need help or more time to evacuate — such as people with disabilities, people with small children, people with medical conditions and people with large animals — should evacuate now. Ensure your evacuation plan checklist is complete and your Go! kits are in your vehicle. Stay informed and be aware of alerts from local law enforcement and fire departments. Always remember to leave if you feel unsafe, do not wait for an official evacuation order.
“Go!” Phase (Level 3): Go now! Danger in your area is current or imminent and you should evacuate immediately. Follow directions from law enforcement or fire departments and do not return home until officials have determined it is safe. Notification that it is safe to return home will be given as soon as possible.
This is a great system to get citizens in tune with emergency situations and how to respond. Most importantly, sign up for Snohomish County Alerts. This will provide you with up-to-date information in case of emergencies. Remember, in severe situations, your cell phone may not work. You should have an emergency radio. Broadcast media, especially radio stations, are federally mandated to have backup power and be on-air 24/7 in case of life-threatening emergencies. If your emergency radios are battery operated, you will need extra batteries on hand. Ideally, they will have the crank option and sometimes solar capability, but without sun solar will not work. NOAA radios are great and include weather updates and AM/FM radio stations.
Build your Go Kits! Now. There are many you can purchase premade. Remember, not every family is alike, and you should customize them for your needs. If you do not have young children or pets, you won’t need diapers, formula, or pet food. If you are on medications, no matter what your age, would will need to have those with you and copies of your prescriptions should you need refills. Have copies of your insurance policies, including medical, auto, and homeowners. You cannot pack up your entire house in a few moments’ notice. Bring enough to survive for a few days until help can…and will…arrive. Most importantly, if you are away from home, do not attempt to go back. Everything is replaceable except your life.
“In an era where the threat of wildfires and other emergencies is ever-present, the ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ Evacuation Campaign represents a proactive step towards safeguarding the residents of King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston Counties. Through education, collaboration, and community engagement, this initiative is poised to make a lasting impact on regional disaster preparedness and response operations,”Says Brendan McCluskey, director of King County Emergency Management.
This is echoed by other county Emergency Management officials including, Jody Ferguson, director of Pierce County Emergency Management who comments “wildfires are one of several emergencies in our region that could result in people needing to evacuate for their safety. Pierce County also has lahars and the threat of a volcanic eruption because Mt. Rainier is in our backyard. The Ready/Set/Go message is important for all of us to learn and make a part of our plans so we can survive and recover from emergency events”
And Kyle Bustad, Emergency Management Manager, Thurston County Emergency Management who says “wildfires are becoming a more common and frequent occurrence. We encourage our communities to be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice by building an emergency kit, making an emergency plan, and staying informed so that you are ready, set, and can leave when it’s time to go!”
While our weather is cooling off amidst a somewhat late but still active wildfire season, our recent rainfall is not nearly enough. If you camp or enjoy outdoor activities, be cautious. As fall rains approach, so will our seasonal floods, along with the ever-present threat of a major earthquake. This system works for all emergencies, not just wildfires.
Lucia Schmit has served as an emergency management leader at federal, state, and local agencies, including time spent working internationally. She comes to the county from the City of Seattle, where she has worked as the emergency planning coordinator. She provides experience, knowledge and guidance.
Schmit is responsible for ensuring the county and its community partners are prepared to collaboratively limit harm to people and property from a host of potential emergencies, including earthquakes, floods, wildfires, severe weather, and human-caused hazards.
“As we’ve seen over the last few years, Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management is a vital tool to help us respond to any disaster, from a global pandemic to floods and winter storms,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “Lucia is a great asset as we work to make Snohomish County even more resilient and prepare ourselves for any future emergencies.”