Last week, my story Net Failure reviewed complaints by members of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management’s (PBEM) Neighborhood Emergency Teams, or NET program. In a major emergency such as a massive Earthquake or a terrorist attack, NET volunteers will be expected to aid the city’s overwhelmed first responders. But NETs that spoke with the Mercury said they weren’t even remotely up to the task. Well today, their complaints have received some vindication.

Today mediation group Resolutions Northwest released its recommendations(pdf) for fixing the NET program, which they've been investigating since last year.

Many of the recommendations directly address volunteers' concerns. For example: After providing its initial emergency training, PBEM doesn’t follow up with volunteers and essentially leaves them to their own devices when forming their neighborhood teams. Resolutions Northwest says this practice should stop, suggesting PBEM: “Support NET leaders in building their teams through team organization practices.”

Another complaint among NET members was that the city had not done enough to get volunteers in low income and minority neighborhoods. Here again, Resolutions Northwest recommends change: “Make sure that age, race, socio‐economic status and ability are not barriers to preparedness or resilience in a disaster.”

NET volunteers are expected to discuss these recommendations with the city at two meetings held later this month. Dates and locations listed below.

February 21, 2012 - 6:30-9:30 PM
University of Portland - Buckley Center Room 163
5000 N. Willamette Boulevard

February 26, 2012 - 2:00-5:00 PM
Markham Elementary - Cafeteria
10531 SW Capitol Highway