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Citizen Preparedness Guide


Citizen Preparedness Helps First Responders

Citizen preparedness is crucial to first responders because it reduces overall demands on these individuals and resources during the onset of a significant event or disaster.  This means they are free to assist those who need more critical care or are in serious or life threatening danger.

TEEX Offers Search and Rescue Class to Community Citizens In Light of Recent Severe Weather in Texas

PER-334 is the number assigned to the the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Office (TEEX) for its class "Search and Rescue in Community Disaster" for local citizens.  According to TEEX, the class is designed to help citizens know what to do to help others following a severe weather outbreak, such as the tornadoes that impacted Texas in December 2015.  Homeland Security funded the class that is designed to help fill gaps in public preparedness and is offered to the public at no charge.

Citizen Preparedness and Community Aid

According to a document published by the The University of Florida IFAS Extension, citizen preparedness also helps communities by:

  • Aiding in the evacuation and transportation efforts, achieving greater success;
  • Helping provide and maintain structure within the community during periods of turmoil and disorder due to incidents or disasters;
  • Providing assistance in resource organization and distribution once a disaster has occurred.

But that is not all it can do.  By taking part in local community organizations such as CERT, Citizen Corps, the Salvation Army and other groups, citizens are given training that specifically teaches them how to be more prepared and to assist both individuals and their community before, during, and after an incident or disaster.  Depending upon the interest of the community member, it is likely that an organization exists that will fit their goals and skill sets.  All of these actions, skills, and trainings help develop cohesiveness through engaging the whole community, which builds both individual and community resilience, allowing for a faster recovery.

Other Classes Offered to Citizens for Individual and Community Preparedness

Other classes are offered to help individuals and communities be more prepared and are available from many organizations both in person and online through various websites.  Anyone signing up for classes should ensure that the organizations they choose are valid, or designed and/or accepted by appropriate overseeing bodies such as FEMA, and follow first responder protocols and practices to ensure coordination of efforts.  Just a few to consider:

  • FEMA IS-22: Are You Ready?
    • Helps teach individuals how to be better prepared for all hazard types
  • The Salvation Army: Community and Government
    • Explains the fundamentals of emergency management and provides a basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of first responders (police, fire, EMS, emergency managers, etc.).
  • The Red Cross: Community Preparedness Champion
    • Helps educate and prepare individuals and organizations within a community to be better able to respond to, and recover from, any disaster.

Other FEMA courses are offered online through their independent study program, and through local communities such as the one offered on February 4, 2016 through a collaboration of the West Seneca, New York Office of Disaster Preparedness, the Red Cross, and the West Seneca CERT program.

Ways Citizens Can Prepare Themselves and Their Families for All Types of Hazard Incidents, Including Severe Weather

The government offers a website to help individuals and their families be better prepared for a disaster, Ready.gov and its program, America's PrepareAthon.  The program lists hazards that may affect a community, and steps that should be taken to help prepare and protect individuals from the impacts, including how to survive the hazard, necessary survival supplies and kits, and things to do before a hazard impact to help prevent damages to homes and structures.

Social media links are available for individuals to receive tips and updates regarding seasonal weather impacts or potential hazards to help keep the information fresh and applicable to current scenarios and conditions.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.