A comprehensive model to train both citizens and emergency, volunteer and risk managers, to work together in disaster response needs to be a national priority.
How we as citizens assess our own risk, prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies effects how society emerges as resilient responders rather than victims, and even how we approach the economic redevelopment of our homes, neighborhoods, businesses and in some cases our country. In addition to saving lives, mitigating damage and fostering resilient long term recovery depends on the education and integration of community members into disaster response initiatives.
Initiatives that train community and faith based groups must address that most of these pillars in the community do not have a mission that addresses disaster response, therefore their resource to apply to preparedness are limited both in staff and time. There are community based groups currently providing disaster preparedness training and support however they often do so on a shoestring budget. Community groups provide connection points and are the glue that holds non-disaster focused groups together, engaging them in times relative calm, keeping them ready to respond, so they must be considered in the mix as well.
Training both the community members who leave their homes and jobs to help during emergencies and disasters, and the emergency managers that are tasked with managing disaster response to work together pre-disaster is key.
We must engage, educate and empower through resources and information sharing all levels of citizens as potential responders and train our emergency managers on how to appropriately integrate these new resources into an inclusive response. Every community leader must be dually trained as an emergency manger ready to lead their congregates in response to disaster.
Let us bring back to our country the sense of ownership and pride that we are all responsible, useful citizens that can work together with our responders.
Exclusion is disempowering, if we are going to ask everyone to be a part of Americas safety, then we must have a seat ready for them at the table.
Founder and Executive Director, World Cares Center
Author: Managing Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disaster Response, A field Manual