Brenna Woslum, Staff writer
On April 3, I sat down with Will Stakelin, Director of Public Safety, to discuss emergency preparedness and Saint Martin’s annual participation in the Great Washington Shakeout. Stakelin, who has worked in the public safety department at Saint Martin’s since 2011, has extensive experience working in law enforcement and emergency services.
Each year, Stakelin and the public safety department partners with William Mikesell, Evergreen’s emergency response planning coordinator, to put on the corresponding events at Saint Martin’s and Evergreen. The Shakeout will take place on Oct. 18 this year and is scheduled to begin at 10:18 a.m. The event will include text warnings of when the simulation will begin, along with updates regarding simulated aftershocks. Stakelin and the Public Safety department have a number of other emergency preparedness campaigns and drills addressing potential emergencies, including earthquakes, active shooter situations, and weather-related events.
Stakelin explained the importance of emergency preparedness drills and broke down how students benefit from participating, “…when we drill and we train, it’s all about muscle memory, because if you see it and you’ve encountered it and you’ve gone through that motion before, when you’re under stress in the real situation, you’re less likely to have to really think through the fear that you’re going to have at that point, and you’re going to be able to respond quicker, with more clarity, in a better way which is just going to improve the situation for you. So, if we have a drill on campus, be a part of it, participate, take it seriously.”
The Public Safety department has a multi-faceted approach to emergency preparedness and is not exclusively focused on earthquake response drills. The department also has educational campaigns addressing active shooter situations, and other emergencies. Stakelin encourages students to think about their responses to emergency situations, saying “every situation is different, which means your response is going to have to change as it goes, and that’s that situational awareness piece. So, if you have that candid conversation with yourself – in this type of situation regardless of whatever type of emergency event it is – if you have that candid conversation with yourself of being prepared and identifying the situation you’re in and how you should respond, we find that’s the best way that people will survive the situation.”
When asked how students can better prepare for emergency situations, Stakelin advised having an emergency kit with basic supplies such as food, water and medical supplies on hand. Students with questions are encouraged to reach out to the Public Safety department. “If you have questions about how you respond at a certain type of emergency, contact public safety, we’ll be more than happy to talk to you about it.
Stakelin stresses the importance of community in managing any crisis. “I think we’re very fortunate to live in a small community that has a set group of values and an understanding that in a crisis or emergency, we’re going to help each other out.”