*This transcript was compiled using automated software — spelling and punctuation errors are possible.
Jason: Welcome to the Crisis Response Podcast. In this episode we are joined by Jake Gillanders, the Executive Director of Empact Northwest, which is an international disaster preparedness and response organization based in Washington state. Welcome to the show, Jake, it’s really great to have you!
Jake: Thanks Jason, I really appreciate being on.
Jason: The timeliness of this conversation couldn’t be more relevant, as you guys are in the middle of a big deployment. Could you tell us a little bit about what’s going on right now?
Jake: You’re absolutely right as far as timing. I think our team is probably touching down literally any minute now in Turkey. They’ve just left Istanbul a few hours ago and are in transit to Adana where they’re going to touch down and start going to work.
This initial team is what we call a pathfinders team. It’s really all about establishing the mission for the follow on team. So their job is to be light and fast and agile and figure out where the needs are the greatest.
Our organization is really dedicated to serving the underserved, so when all of the large teams, whether it’s search and rescue or medical or relief, are focused on the big population centers, we work on the outskirts and we find the areas that aren’t getting that immediate aide. So our pathfinders team, their job is to figure out where those sports are so that we’ve got good actionable intelligence for our follow on teams and our partners to act on.
Jason: That’s amazing. Really fantastic work that you guys do. And we, Trek Medics, we’ve known you since January 2010, I believe the Haiti earthquake was the first time we ever came in contact, and we’ve been friends and collaborators ever since.
Could you share with the audience, how does this work? How does Empact Northwest decide where to go, when to go there, what’s that process look like?
Jake: Well I wish I could say it was the same every time, but it’s not. We evaluate every disaster, every event, as its own event, because it really is, and everyone is a little bit different. Generally though, we respond at the request of either a host agency or a partner NGO [Non-governmental organization] who’s already active in the area, or host government. We have relationships with governments around the world, we have relationships with NGOs around the world, and we’ll typically respond to a request from them.
Now, some events like this one are of such a significant scale that it’s sort of an all call. When it comes down to that sort of model, we’re part of an organization called INSARAG, which is the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, and national governments can put out requests for any urban search and rescue or medical response teams. That is how this deployment specifically started, is there was essentially an all call from the government of Turkey to send them whoever you can and have available. So all of us registered entities within that INSARAG structure received a request for deployment.
It’s really a variable model. It depends on where the disaster is and what the disaster is and the nature of that disaster. One of the unique things about our organization is we don’t really pigeonhole ourselves into any one kind of disaster. We do earthquakes, we do pandemics and epidemics, we do conflict medicine and conflict relief for civilian populations. There’s really nothing we won’t get into if we’ve got the personnel for the job.
Jason: What kind of personnel do you staff? What type of responders are you bringing along?
Jake: When we respond we’ve got three units. We’ve got a rescue unit, we’ve got a medical unit, we’ve got a logistics unit, and each one of those has subspecialties within it.
So our rescue unit is made up of highly qualified and experienced urban search and rescue professionals. Most of them are active on US based technical rescue or urban search and rescue teams. We’ve got technical search specialists who manage the cameras and the seismics and the acoustics and drones. Then we’ve got canine search and rescue providers, and we currently have four search dogs right now. All those dogs are live find; we don’t do any human remains work.
Then our medical team is made up of emergency medical providers. So that looks like everything from an EMT to emergency room physicians and everything in between. I would say the bulk of them though are nurses, paramedics, and emergency room docs.
Then our logistics team is really the ones that make everything work and we’ve got folks from all different backgrounds on that team. Our logistics unit leader is a flight attendant in her day job, we’ve got an acupuncturist within that unit, so these are the folks who may not have a lot of emergency background in their regular civilian job, but who bring a strong skillset to the table in doing the relief work and making things actually happen.
Jason: Clearly a huge need for all sorts of professionals. So in this case in Turkey. The call goes out through INSARAG, which for listeners is really important to understand that this isn’t freelancing that you are doing but rather a process that you’re following of answering a call that has gone out. So you answer that call, and then what happens. Do you start getting on the phone and calling up people or sending out emails? How do you figure out who is available? Because this is very last minute to say the least.
Jake: Absolutely. Our key window, especially for rescue, is generally 24 to 72 hours. You know, local resources manage pretty well for the first 24 hours of an event, but at that 24-hour mark they start to get burned out and you just start to burn through what you have available locally. But then the large teams that you see from large international organizations, a lot of times they can take up to 72 hours to deploy.
So we really try to exist in that 24-to-72-hour window. We’re a little bit heavier than a local response, but not quite as big as the big international, government sponsored teams.
Time really is of the essence, and we use a couple pieces of technology to reach out to our team. We’ve got a good network, we use the technology to reach out, and they report back to us their availability so that our operations team here in the states can quickly make those decisions and build out those teams.
We’ll generally have a good idea of whether or not it’s going to be a rescue deployment, a medical deployment, or a relief deployment, which will steer us early on. For instance, Turkey, simply because of the travel involved, this was not going to be a rescue deployment for us. By the time we put a team on the ground, the rescue problem was going to be over. That was going to be addressed really by the local teams from Europe that were able to respond very quickly. So it became immediately apparent that in the timeframe that we would be able to get on the ground that this would be a medical mission folding into a relief mission over time.
So we look at what the mission is, we determine what the most appropriate resources for us to send are, and then we reach out to our team through those pieces of technology and get a move on.
Jason: You probably have a pretty big inventory of supplies that you keep on the ready. I’m wondering if you could share a little more about that inventory. What kind of supplies do you stock and what do you bring along and what do you rely on getting when you arrive in the country?
Jake: We really pride ourselves on being self-sufficient for the first seven days of any deployment. We’ve fully self-sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitation for the first 72 hours. After that, we start needing access to water and to fuel.
So this means we are taking everything with us. We take our own shelter with us, we take our own food with us, we take our own sanitation supplies – essentially portable toilets – to make sure we’re not making more of a problem than we’re solving. We keep all of that stuff, like you mentioned, ready to go because we do have such a quick turnaround time as an organization that we just don’t have time to gather those things up. So we have a storage unit where we keep all of those things packed up in bags ready to go and head out the door when called.
One prepared bag is good for four people. So typically one of our logistics members goes to the unit, and based on the team size, they grab however many appropriate bags are needed and out the door we go.
Now with that being said, we do try to keep our load out pretty light because one of the things that makes us unique in this world, especially in the USAR environment, is our flexibility. Part of our mantra as an organization is that no job is beneath us, no job is too hard, no job is too small, so whatever we are needed to do, we’ll do.
Jason: So the team arrives on the ground, they’re in the affected zone, but as we know from reports, first there was one earthquake, then a second one as well, so the affected zone is quite large. How does your team decide where to initially go, and then when they get there, how do they know what they’re supposed to be doing?
Jake: There are a couple of ways that it works. The first model is if you are working with that partner NGO or a host government, typically they will have that ground truth for us, and they’ll be able to send us in the direction of greatest need and make those connections.
If it’s a government entity that’s requesting us, we work for the government entity at that point, what we call LEMA or Local Emergency Management Authority. They give us direction and we very often will fold into their command structure, and they help us figure out where we are needed.
The next kind of scale is the INSARAG model. So a full scale ISNARAG coordinated mission there will be a single reception and departure center at the airport and we’ll check in there generally at the airport. We will advise on our capabilities, and they will deploy us out from there.
Those are sort of best-case scenarios, right. To my understanding, and I’m not on the ground in Turkey, but my understanding is that this has totally overwhelmed all of those systems. As well prepared and as capable as INSARAG is, you can imagine that the capabilities of any organizational structure can be outpaced by a disaster of this scale, and right now my understanding is that there’s very little coordination happening on the ground, and that’s why we sent in a light team first.
So our first team will generally be two to four people so that we don’t flood with eight to ten people standing around figuring out what to do. With that small team of two to four, they can very quickly move throughout the community and the region, and they can figure out exactly where the need is at. Sometimes that looks like just knocking on doors and asking questions, sometimes it’s the military we’re liaising with, sometimes it’s law enforcement we’re liaising with, or local fire authority. Every country’s a little bit different. Every structure’s a little bit different. I know it sounds like I’m being vague, but it really is just about flexibility and that’s how the missions go.
Jason: Absolutely. You never really know what you’re walking into until you get there, and even then, very dynamic situations where things can change quickly.
Jake: Yeah, I don’t like to relate disaster work to war, but there’s a great quote out there about the best laid plans exist until the first round is fired, right. And that’s very similar to this. We can make all the plans in the world, but once we’re in country, we find out if those plans are actually going to work.
Jason: I think it was Mike Tyson who said everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.
Jake: That’s perfect. I like that one even better.
Jason: Let’s step back a little bit if we may, like I said earlier, we first met you in Haiti in January of 2010, after the Earthquake. As I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong here, but that was Empact’s first deployment, right? What’s the backstory, how did Empact Northwest get started?
Jake: That’s right, that was the genesis of our organization. None of us had any intention of getting involved in nonprofit work or NGOs. What happened was, you know, the earthquake in Haiti occurred and all of us kind of in a loose network of local firefighters and paramedics here in the Seattle area were all trying to find ways to get to Haiti and to do good work.
We were all impacted or affected one way or the other and we were all reaching out to existing NGOs and existing non-profit entities to try and find a way to get there and do some work, and nobody was taking paramedics at the time. Nobody was interested in our skillset, they only wanted nurses, they only wanted physicians.
I had one interesting experience, I was 10 years on the job as a paramedic at that time, and I called an organization and said I was looking for opportunities to deploy, and their response was, “well, I don’t know what to do with a paramedic, but I guess you could take blood pressures.”
And I knew right in that moment that she didn’t understand the skillset of a paramedic. So all of us were having similar experiences and we just sort of made connections by telephone asking what each other were doing and none of us were having any success.
So at that time, we thought, well we can start our own organization, I mean how hard can it be? Right? We’ll bootstrap this thing and we’ll just do a small mission and the five of us will get the opportunity to go down and then sort of quickly snowballed because lo and behold there were a lot of emergency responders and emergency care providers in the Seattle area who were looking to do the same thing and we’re having the same outcome and they found out about what we were doing and they started asking if they could go.
Then we decided If we were going to be sending people then we should probably figure out insurance, we should probably figure out funding, so eventually we just set up a framework of an organization here in the Seattle area through the Secretary of State of Washington. Established ourselves as an entity with no intention of growing or going anywhere, just making sure that we were all protected if somebody got hurt on this sort of rag tag volunteer group.
Then we got to Haiti and the need was just so incredible that you know, once you see something, sometimes it’s really hard to look away. So it snowballed from there, we started sending more teams and more teams, and before you know it, within that first year we had deployed over 150 teams of providers and had provided emergency and primary care to over 15,000 people, without frankly any intention of getting to those numbers.
But there was just such a great need, and Jason you may remember this, that during the Haiti earthquake, the main medical education facility in all of Haiti collapsed and took with it a whole generation of providers. Nurses, physicians, physician trainees, nurse trainees, lab techs, all of those positions were trained in this one school, and they lost the vast majority of them and the vast majority of their instructional staff. So not only did they have this major disaster, but they had the huge impact after the fact of no next generation of healthcare providers, which left a huge gap in the primary care setting.
We found ourselves very quickly being adapted into that primary care setting, and at the same time we were discovering that, as you can imagine, Haiti had no effective emergency care program. They had no ambulance system to speak of, certainly nothing we would recognize here in the States as an ambulance service. And we had all of these young translators who were looking for employment opportunities but whose whole world had been rocked by this earthquake. They had, frankly, their future employment plans collapse with the building around them. So we saw this great opportunity to use our skillset in a really unique way to provide employment opportunities for these young men and women and help improve the healthcare system of a developing nation that had been absolutely decimated by this disaster.
So once again, and you’ll see this as kind of the byline of our organization, it’s why not? Right? Like, how hard can it be? So we decided we would start Haiti’s first ever EMT training program.
Now the other byline that runs through our history is if we had known what we were getting into in a lot of these things, I don’t know that we would have done it, but we figured how tough can it be?
So we took a US based curriculum, we approached the Haitian Ministry of Health with it, and then they adopted our program and allowed us to translate it into French and we began teaching EMT courses. We actually graduated Haiti’s first ever EMT class the year after the disaster, after the earthquake.
It then sort of grew from there. 2011 there was a tsunami in Japan, and here we were with all of this experience coming out of Haiti and we thought, well, we better go do this one too and see if we can’t do some more good, and what we discovered this time there was a great medical response system, but there was an awful urban search and rescue response system. Coming from our world of being firefighters and paramedics, we were well positioned to fill that niche, so we were very fortunate to get a grant from one of the local native tribes here in Washington State to start that program, and we’ve just sort of been off to the races ever since then.
Everything sort of snowballed, one after the other, we eventually got into training firefighters and rescue because we realized that we were developing all of this experience overseas that couldn’t be matched with anything our local firefighters were getting back home. So we wanted to share that knowledge, and pretty soon people started taking notice of our abilities to develop systems and courses, and we started getting approached by developing nations to help them improve their response systems.
I wish I was some brilliant business mind who could say that I laid this all out in a business plan or that it was all being planned from the beginning, but it’s really just sort of been about being flexible and agile and seizing opportunities when they arise and seizing opportunities to do good around the world. I think that’s been a really important part of our organization is at the end of the day, we’re always driven by helping others and serving others, so we’ve seen opportunities to serve, and we’ve just seized them as they’ve come along, and we’ve just sort of grown and morphed into what we are today.
Jason: It always strikes me about the number of organizations that got their start so to speak responding to the Haiti earthquake and to this day are growing and thriving and just becoming really big organizations. I mean, Empact Northwest is certainly one of them, and a few others come to mind, that have just really taken to the mission and run with it. How many deployments has Empact had since that first one to Haiti?
Jake: I’ve frankly lost count at this point. Not counting individual missions, but just high-level deployments, we’re north of 30 at least.
You brought this up so I’m going to jump on it. You are right, the Haiti earthquake was a real revolution in the international NGO community. I’m not going to name names, but the response from the largest established NGOs was so disappointing and their ineffectiveness in Haiti was so profound that it led to this revolution in the NGO community where we saw a lot of these small NGOs fill in those gaps.
It kind of created this whole sea change in the NGO community where it’s not just the large organizations that are doing these things. They still serve valuable roles in this world, but the small NGOs a lot of times are the ones getting the work done. And Haiti really pointed that out to the world, the capabilities of small NGOs and the importance of small NGOs, that we have flexibility that those large organizations lack.
Different NGOs have gone different directions, but a lot of us have, by design, stayed small because that small size breeds flexibility and agility that allows us to get in where the work is really needed most and to do that good work at a local level. So Haiti is a huge pivot point for the NGO community. I think everything in the disaster response world is sort of, you know, before Haiti and after Haiti.
Jason: I think that is a pretty fair generalization. I would also say one of the things that I’ve noticed being among the small NGOs is the willingness to partner. You know, a lot of the larger ones like you said, they do a great job, they certainly fill a role, but they’re not necessarily open to partnerships.
And this kind of brings me to really our collaboration most recently in Belize that I’d love for you to talk a little bit about and maybe you can talk about this too. Obviously, the disaster response sector is difficult in terms of sustaining an organization because you have to have these stockpiles that you keep and you have to be ready to go, but these disasters are completely unpredictable, so that makes it difficult to plan. And I know, just from our conversations and our interactions and collaborations that this has kind of led Empact to get involved in other areas, particularly in more long-term development. So could you tell us a little bit about your involvement in Belize and how that all came about?
Jake: Yes, of course. I’ll start with that you are absolutely right, it’s hard to be just a response organization for disasters. But in addition to that, lives get saved in preparedness, right? More lives are saved in preparing communities for disasters than responding to disasters.
And if I may sound capitalistic for a moment, they’re saved much more cheaply as well. Your dollar can go a lot further in the preparedness section than it does in the response section. There was a Harvard Business Review article some time ago, and I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it was pretty profound, it was almost a 10x multiplier of the money spent in preparedness to save a single life versus the money spent in response to save a single life. Now, how they quantify that, I don’t know, they’re economists smarter than me. But they were able to put a dollar amount on it, and like I said, it was almost 10x from one to the other.
So it became fairly evident fairly quickly that if we wanted to have a significant impact on lives saved, that was going to be done in the preparedness and training environment. Now, like I mentioned earlier, we got involved in firefighter training here locally, I believe it was 2016, I can’t remember the year we actually did the first course. But we got started in that because we recognized that we were developing this experience that was really, really tough to get anywhere else and it felt, frankly, so selfish of us to just silo that information to ourselves. So we started in the preparedness space by just teaching local classes here in the Seattle area and we do that to this day. We actually have a rope rescue course today that was kind of our first foray into this preparedness environment, but then as we started deploying to more disasters and we started building our training shops here in the Seattle area, we started recognizing that a lot of these communities we were deploying to in disasters lacked an effective emergency management or emergency preparedness system. So they would be left scrambling when a disaster did occur, and we noticed this was the case even in disaster prone regions.
We made a very good hire a few years ago, originally, we hired him as our grants manager, but he really had an eye for the community preparedness mission, and he’s really driven us forward on this model and forced me to reevaluate our mission several times over, which I value him highly for. He’s really pushed us into this preparedness space and so he approached me originally with a mission, or a program in Indonesia. He had done some networking in Indonesia with some contacts of his and he had established that there was a real need there for some emergency management development.
But that was 2019 and we had an initial trip set up for early 2020 and then as we all know the pandemic occurred, right? And so that changed the travel model, particularly to Asia, literally overnight, and it became apparent that a program in Indonesia was going to be very difficult for us to manage. So that forced us to reevaluate whether or not that was something we’d be able to do. So we put this idea of doing a community preparedness and emergency management development program kind of on the back burner while we were in Covid.
In addition that that, we were responding to Covid here locally as well, using our medical resources and providing surge staffing and testing and that sort of thing. Then once Covid sort of fades into the background travel was still heavily restricted to Indonesia, and this forced us to reevaluate just the logistics in general of trying to manage a program across language barriers and across such a significant geographic distance.
Meanwhile, this same guy had gone on vacation in Belize, and he started talking to some folks down there and very quickly realized that what we understood to be the ground truth in Belize was not the truth. That there was a very anemic emergency response system there. The fire service there was totally underdeveloped and underfunded, and despite their best efforts they were really, really challenged with some limitations and the emergency management system was an underdeveloped or more anemic system. So he took this idea that he had developed through the program once being created for Indonesia and said why don’t we apply this to Belize?
There was no language barrier because English is the primary language. There’s a clear need and logistically it’s much simpler to get from Seattle to Belize than it is to get from Seattle to Indonesia. So we were sort of off to the races. I paid for him to fly down there on a trip and have some meetings. We quickly established a need, very quickly established an interest from the Belize National Fire Service and IEMO which is International Emergency Management Organization, and once again it just sort of snowballed from there.
So now we are heavily engaged in Belize in several ways. We’re helping them develop an incident command system based on the USIC’s model. We’re helping them develop a rescue response capability, so I’ll be flying down there here at the end of February to start working on the next phase of actual hands-on rescue training. Then we’re working with Trek Medics for one of the pieces I’m most excited about implementing, which is Belize’s first ever centralized dispatch system for emergency dispatch.
And this is one of those areas where we can have a huge impact on people’s lives because it’s not the disasters, right? When we implement a dispatch system, it’s going to be valuable if and when there is a disaster, but we’re impacting lives every single day with that system. Right now, we’ve averaging 93 dispatched calls every month, and if we start counting that alongside the number of people, we’ve trained we estimate that we’re having a lives impacted of around 315 people a month through emergency calls and through the skills that our trained firefighters are bringing to the table. So just in a very short time that we’ve been operating in Belize our metric of lives impacted is already up to 3000 people.
That’s a huge impact that we can have for a much smaller outlay than we would have in the disaster response space, and like I said, our mission is really driven by serving others and saving lives and this is a hugely effective way we can do it.
And I guess back to your original question, we couldn’t do any of this without the partnerships. Because it’s all about working with entities and within their skillset. Trek Medics is an amazing technology platform organization, right. But implementation isn’t your strong suit necessarily. We at Empact are great at training and systems building, but we know nothing about software development. So by working together we can bring the Beacon software that Trek Medics has developed, and we can be the implementation piece of that that allows both of us to have a huge impact on lives saved.
Jason: Absolutely. I can attest to that. You’ve gotta pick your lane, right? You can’t be everything to everybody. We often meet groups that are like, yes, we need the technology, but we also need the capacity building and the rest of the playbook, and we could sit there and work through that with them but that would pull us away from our own priorities which is constantly improving the platform. So it’s a real testament to partnership because you guys are playing such an important role in that, frankly.
You know, we always say this, we build a tool and if you don’t have people that know how to use the tool then the tool just sits there. But at the same time, if you have all the best trained folks, and all the resources and supplies you need, but nobody can communicate with each other, especially with the people who need those resources and supplies, then you kind of have a half system. So you’re absolutely right, the testament to partnership is really profound.
Jake: And that’s just it, right? So I can go down there, and I can train every Belizean firefighter how to do rescue and I can train them all in an incident management and incident command, but if they don’t know where the call is and they don’t have a way of being told that there is a call, that training is worthless.
Conversely, you could set them all up with dispatch software. You can tell them where the call is, but if they don’t know what to do when they get there, it’s equally worthless. So this has been a really awesome opportunity and you hit the nail on the head with staying in our lane. Early on, we as an organization tried to do everything and frankly, we weren’t very good at it.
I took over as executive director in 2016, and since then, one of my big goals has been to really streamline our lanes, figure out what purpose we serve and really be really good at that thing.
And I think the outcome is more lives saved, which is at the end of the day what we are all here to do.
Jason: Indeed. So that’s a good segue to my next question, aside from the short term of making sure your team gets to Turkey safely, does the work that they can do, and does it well and then get back safely, what’s the future hold for Empact? What are you looking to do and where are you looking to go next?
Jake: Well, this is such serendipitous timing to be having this conversation in so many ways, between the deployment that’s happening right now, but also because since last September our organization’s been in the middle of a strategic rebuild. It was sort of the capstone to that plan I had of figuring out where we were, figuring out our lanes and getting really good at them.
So this capstone has sort of been this strategic rebuild that we’re actually unveiling to our staff and volunteers on Saturday, two days from now. We’re going to be renaming and rebranding under Empact International, to better reflect our international scope of work, and we’re really going to be leaning into community preparedness and firefighter training, especially here in the Seattle area and in the Caribbean region. We’re going to focus our geographic response more to the Caribbean, Central America, in the Gulf Coast of the US, because those are areas, we are able to respond to very quickly.
And I’m sorry, I’m using words a little too interchangeable here. To me, response means that early 24 to 72 hours like we were talking about earlier, that’s the rescue, that’s the medical, and those are the things we are going to be focusing on in Central America, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean.
We’re going to be adding though a much broader relief mission to our organization. This last year we deployed to Ukraine, and we’ve been engaged there for the last year in a relief mission. It’s not rescue work, it’s not medical work, but it’s bringing the flexibility and agility and frankly, audacity of our organization into a new environment. We’re going places that nobody else is willing to go in Ukraine and we’re getting supplies where they’re needed, right on the front lines. And so we’ve recognized that there’s this huge gap that can be filled by small organizations which is sort of counterintuitive, right? Huge gap, small organization. But that’s because we are small, flexible, and audacious, we’re able to get in there to those places nobody else is willing to go.
So we are going to narrow our response and focus our rescue medical and that first wave logistics into the Caribbean, Gulf Coast, and Central America. But we’re going to broaden our relief model around the world and we’re going to add more conflict medicine or conflict relief to our mission.
In addition to that, we’re really learning into the community preparedness, and we are hoping to take this Belize model and expand it throughout the Caribbean region. There’s obviously a huge need within the Caribbean and through Belize, we’ve been able to expand our footprint there and get a lot of face time with other leaders from other Caribbean nations that are taking of what we’re doing in Belize and are interested in expanding it throughout that region.
So we are hoping to take that same model of dispatch and incident management and rescue training and get it spread across the entire Caribbean region. Meanwhile, like I said, we’re expanding our rescue training program here in the Seattle area. We’ve just done a big hire of adding I think in the last three weeks we’ve added six rescue instructors. We’re looking at doubling our courses between this year and next. We’re going to be adding more advanced courses to our framework for training and really be leaning into that more. And then a lot of this too is we’re streamlining our model. You know, I’m really excited about the idea of a social entrepreneurship venture.
This is something I’ve been reading up on lately and kind of studying and our structure will remain the same legally, we’ll still be a nonprofit organization, but we’re going to be getting out of our own way a little bit and breaking free of some of the old model of how nonprofits work and we’re going to adopt this social entrepreneurship model of using good business practices and using a business mindset to develop strong social impact and develop strong programs.
It’s a huge shift for our organization, but I’m really excited to see where it takes us, and I think the next 10 years are going to be even more exciting than the last.
Jason: Well you got me excited just listening to it here, that is fantastic. I really applaud the evolution of your thinking and looking at the nonprofit model and where it works and where it doesn’t and how you can improve upon it. Hats off to you.
So the last question I have is, you obviously have a lot of volunteers, so hopefully some people will be listening to this that might be interested in getting involved, how would they go about doing that?
Jake: If they go to empactnorthwest.org/volunteer there is an application there. I will give everybody a heads up though, we’re not going to be actually processing volunteers probably until the end of the year because of this strategic rebuild. We’re building a lot of foundations internally right now and I think it would be unfair to bring volunteers in in the middle of that process.
So like I said, we’re unveiling this approach to our internal stakeholders here in the next month starting on Saturday. But at the end of the year, we’re going to start processing volunteers again, and one of the exiting things about this rebuild is we’re going to have a lot more opportunity for folks. In the past, we’ve really only recruited people from the Seattle area, but I think that we’re going to be able to recruit people from around the country and around the world here with this new model because we’re going to have a broader relief mission.
In the past, we required everybody to be rescue qualified, and that requires a lot of training and huge time commitment from our volunteer cadre. So under this new model, I think we’re going to be able to broaden ourselves out a little bit geographically and get more folks in the door, which I’m really excited about.
Jason: Very exciting, very glad to be listening to it and learning about it at the outset. Well, thank you so much Jason, really appreciate all your time, it’s been a pleasure speaking, and we look forward to continuing the great work.
Jake: Yes, the pleasures all mine, and I’m going to make a shameless plug that you didn’t ask for. We’re super impressed with Trek Medics and the work you guys are doing with the Beacon program. This has really been probably one of our more fruitful partnerships in a long time, and we’re really excited to see where we go together. So thank you for that and thank you for the opportunity to talk to you and your audience today.
Jason: Pleasure is all ours. Thank you, Jake.