Our previous post on emergency preparedness provides safe planning tips for individuals and families during disasters, and this week we’re focusing on similar community-based initiatives. Many communities across North America are implementing a more efficient take on preparedness through their neighborhood emergency programs. The idea behind such programs is to create a neighborhood of volunteers that are equipped, trained and self-sufficient before, during and after an emergency. A large amount of safety awareness campaigns deliver messages of “staying safe”, but most fail to tell you how. Neighborhood programs give citizens the training and knowledge required to build an active rescue team in the event of a disaster. Trained by the city’s fire and safety officials, volunteers are told how to work together to minimize hazards, provide first aid, shelter and assess any damage.
The City of Portland has established a fully functional training and workshop agenda that requires all participants to complete 21 hours of basic in-class training with a final field exercise that allows volunteers to practice the skills they have learnt. The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management has outlined the key skills volunteers obtain through their mandatory training:
Prepared for self-sufficiency for no less than five days in any emergency.
Able to provide emergency assistance to their family and immediate neighbors.
Able to work as an emergency response team to save lives and property in their neighborhood in the event of a major disaster.
Able to guide untrained volunteers who want to help others when disaster strikes.
Training sessions cover a range of situational, medical and psychological aspects of the planning process; these include, natural disaster awareness, utility control, disaster medicine and trauma intervention classes. Over 1,000 volunteers have completed training and their programs have been initiated in 90 Portland neighborhoods.
Similarly, the View Royal Fire Rescue team of Victoria, British Columbia has coordinated training sessions for its citizens that include fire suppression and light rescue classes. The team of volunteers are trained to report their status to local reception centres and emergency operations centres in order to prioritize areas with greater, more critical need for assistance. Depending on the degree of the emergency, the first few hours and even days of a disaster can be life altering moments for many citizens and first responder teams have to act as efficiently as possible during this time. While critical conditions are being attended to, program volunteers group together to ensure the safety of their families and neighbors. In severe situations where access to phones, gas, water or electrical services are cut off, neighborhoods must learn to provide for themselves for at least a 3 day period. before official city rescue teams arrive.
In addition to in-class, group based training workshops, many city rescue departments provide online tools and resources that outline emergency plans, hazards and tips specific to their region. The emergency management division of New Wesminister, British Columbia provides a comprehensive safety reportthat includes both individual and neighborhood preparedness. This report consists of thorough explanations of tips to follow and water, gas and electrical hazards to avoid. It also contains functional exercises, search guidelines and emotional support suggestions.
Program guides similar to this give a thorough understanding of emergency preparedness and its importance. Above all, they supply neighborhoods with detailed “how to” action plans that can be followed through the disaster period. While neighborhood emergency initiatives can be a challenging endeavor for cities and their volunteers; once established, they have proven fruitful for the comfort of citizens in knowing what to do and when to do it.
Guardly provides mobile safety solutions for reporting and managing enterprise and public safety emergencies.Our safety apps act as personal emergency phones that transmit real-time indoor/GPS location, and provides two-way communication with private security, 911 authorities and safety groups using our real-time platform for emergency incident monitoring, management, communication and response.
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