Disaster Preparedness
January 10, 2024

Comprehensive Disaster Preparedness in Bellingham


Risk Solutions Unlimited (RSU), deeply embedded in the Bellingham community, has developed a comprehensive disaster preparedness strategy in wake of a rapidly changing world, and local events in and around our community in Bellingham. This strategy not only incorporates the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) but also addresses the critical aspects of home-based preparedness. Recent natural disasters and social unrest in the world like the earthquake in Japan, or recent flooding and devastation in the southeast United States have underscored the necessity of such a proactive approach.

Recent Disasters in Bellingham

The Fairhaven Fire and Flood Incidents

In December 2023, Bellingham witnessed a devastating fire at the historic Fairhaven Terminal Building, leading to significant damage and one person unaccounted for​​. Additionally, in November 2021, excessive rain led to widespread flooding, affecting multiple city streets and public infrastructure​​ in Whatcom county. These incidents highlight the unpredictability and varied nature of emergencies that the community can face.

Incorporating NIMS and ICS

Understanding NIMS and ICS

RSU's preparedness strategy aligns with NIMS and ICS principles. NIMS provides a systematic approach to guide all levels of government and organizations during incidents, while ICS offers a standard on-scene emergency management structure. RSU's expertise in these systems ensures a coordinated and effective response to any disaster.

Home-Based Preparedness: The First Line of Defense

Essential Emergency Kits

Every household should have an emergency kit that includes basic necessities such as water, food, first aid supplies, and important documents. Our team recommends tailoring these kits to individual family needs, including pets. Discuss the essentials with each other regularly. Its important to start developing knowledge on the precise equipment, tools, clothes, documents, and important items you could bring with you in an emergency.

Structural Safety Assessments

Regular home safety assessments are crucial. This includes checking structural integrity, securing heavy furniture and appliances, and ensuring that the house is capable of withstanding various disaster scenarios. We have a significantly low chance in Washington to see major tornados, but are at risk for landslides, earthquakes, coastal and inland flooding, and thats only nature. Political radicalism, islamophobia, antisemitism, racism, and general social unrest are on the rise as we adapt to new social norms, political systems, and integrate with breakthroughs in technology.

Emergency Plans

Families should develop and regularly update their emergency plans. These plans should include evacuation routes, meeting points, and a communication strategy in case family members are separated. This is crucial. For families that have access to devices for everyone in the household, we recommend non-invasive, consent based GPS tracking through apps like Google Maps, Snapchat, and Facebook. Further, many modern devices incorporate a setting to enable an emergency mode. This could be pressing the power button 3 times, or with recent devices saying a key phrase. This usually will take a picture, record a limited amount of audio, and send a custom alert text with your location data to a preferred number of your choice. 

Community Engagement and Training

Workshops and Drills

RSU organizes and participates in community workshops and drills. These activities are designed to educate residents about NIMS and ICS, and they provide practical experience in emergency response. Speak to an RSU representative in Bellingham about our involvement with Community Emergency Response Teams.

Effective Communication Strategies

Advanced Alert Systems

RSU promotes the use of advanced systems like AlertSense, PulsePoint, Citizen, and other apps for timely updates during emergencies. Such systems are invaluable in ensuring that the community receives real-time information in our modern world.

Community Communication Networks

RSU encourages the development of local communication networks. This includes neighborhood watch programs and local online forums that can serve as information hubs during emergencies. This can also be achieved by using routers and computers offline with encrypted and local communication. RSU can assist you with the infrastructure and setup of your meshtastic or LORA network projects to prepare your computer communications off the grid.

Collaborating with Local Authorities

Leveraging Local Resources

RSU works closely with Bellingham’s emergency services, including the Fire Department, Bellingham Police Department, Department of Emergency Management, and Public Works, to ensure a synergized response to disasters. This collaboration is crucial for effective mitigation and recovery efforts.


RSU’s comprehensive disaster preparedness strategy, rooted in NIMS and ICS principles and emphasizing home-based preparedness, positions Bellingham as a community capable of facing and overcoming a variety of emergency situations. Through RSU's security and safety leadership, Bellingham is not only prepared for emergencies but is also setting a standard for community resilience.