Western Washington Medical Services Communications was first organized in 1990, as an off-shoot of the King County ARES team. Following the Loma Prieta, CA. earthquake in 1989, a group of us realized how vulnerable hospitals were to loss of communications. Initially, our operations were only in King County. We were the ARES Medical Services Team at that time.
In about 1993, we were asked by the Section Emergency Coordinator at the time, to expand our scope to include all of Western Washington. Having no idea how we could possibly accomplish that, we reluctantly agreed to try to expand our services, one county at a time.
In 1997, we formalized our status by writing Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, and then applied for a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. At that time, we officially became the Western Washington Medical Services Emergency Communications. (WWMST for short).
Washington State is divided into nine regions for Homeland Security purposes, and the WWMST has some level of participation or affiliation in six of those regions. The remaining three are in Eastern Washington. Region 5 (Pierce Co.) and Region 6 (King Co.) have dedicated MST teams that work closely with the hospitals and other healthcare entities. In Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4 (the rest of W. WA.) an MST Emergency Coordinator works in coordination with the resident ARES team in each county to conduct exercises, training, and work with the hospitals in those regions.
Team members are trained in NIMS (National Incident Management System), and HICS (Hospital Incident Coordination System). They also receive other training that prepares them for working in a healthcare setting. Team members must be registered as Washington State Emergency Workers, through a local sponsoring agency.