Three years ago Cheryl Bledsoe languished with spinal meningitis. Unable to sit up for weeks on end, she watched the world go by online. During the course of her illness, she discovered the #140 Conference in New York City. The magic of that first conference ignited a passion.

Later that evening she told her husband, Tim Bledsoe, “I want to be involved with one of those.”

He responded, “That’s hilarious, honey. That’s never going to happen. You live in Vancouver, Washington.”

Cheryl Bledsoe.

Cheryl Bledsoe.

On May 23, Cheryl Bledsoe’s dream comes true.

The #140 Conference Northwest, which was organized by Cheryl and is happening now at the Hilton Vancouver, 301 W. Sixth St., evolved out of reviewing how emergency management agencies handled the local swine flu epidemic. Bledsoe said its big failure was not implementing social media.

“Trying to get involved in social media during an emergency is almost impossible,” Bledsoe said.

Her suggestion for government to host a #140 Conference in order to set up a social media infrastructure and test emergency management was accepted and funding granted by the centers for Disease Control.

Cheryl Bledsoe is the division manager for emergency management for Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA), and the organizer and social media maven for the event. Bledsoe has lined up 68 speakers for the 8 1/2 hour conference. The rapid-fire presentations are geared to capture audience attention, zero in on best practices, and offer insight on why social media is so popular. Speakers are not allowed PowerPoint presentations, and Bledsoe promises her Speaker Wrangler Team will insure the event stays on time.

Last night COUV.COM General Manager Carol Doane caught up with three panelists from today’s #140 Conference Northwest, Mary Rarick, Al Partridge and Michael Perozzo. The three explain what they are looking forward to as participants and speakers at the event.

At 2:20 p.m. today, you can hear Doane moderate a 20-minute session on Twitterdipity. If you are unable to attend the conference, it will be live-streamed over the Internet.

You can find CRESA on twitter as @cresa.

Carol Doane is known as @TheClassicCarol on Twitter.

Audio by Evan Newman