Below you will find the August content of my monthly Disaster in Place. Disaster in Place is an email series I began in May 2013 to engage Medical Reserve Corps team members to think practically about preparedness for just a few minutes a month and increase our alert responses (what we use in Virginia to see who is available to respond in disaster). It comes complete with training and educational opportunities for those who are so inclined. (I wrote a blog post introducing this series back in May!)
I’ve been instituting the Disaster in Place training series with my three MRC units since May and am happy to share stats, info, and previous months’ with you. Feel free to participate, use and share, but if you do, please let me know so I can keep track of the reach of this program! It would be quite appreciated. I’ll be posting these every month…enjoy!
August Disaster in Place – Chemical Event!
Welcome to the fourth of our monthly Disaster in Place series. As always, please click on the alert link in this message and indicate you did or did not participate in this exercise so we can track that everyone knows how to receive and respond to requests with availability!
This month’s scenario is a chemical event.
A chemical exposure can happen for a few reasons, including terrorism and human error in a factory or even at home. If you were exposed to a chemical material, how would you react? Would you know to remove exposed clothing and wash for fifteen minutes with soap and water (or what we call decontamination)? What if that chemical was at home and a family member or friend was exposed?
For information about various chemical agents, including lists, FAQ’s, and decontamination, check out this fantastic resource from the CDC: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/chemical/
For additional training on hazardous materials at home, visit this free online course from FEMA, IS-55.a: Household Hazardous Materials ? A Guide for Citizens http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/courseOverview.aspx?code=IS-55.a
For even more training, check out this course from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – Intro to Chemical Agents: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-public-health-preparedness/training/online/intro_chem_agents.html
And remember these important numbers: Poison Control Center – 800-222-1222 and Virginia 2-1-1 for all types of questions, connections and resources.
Hope you enjoyed this month!
I’m a Medical Reserve Corps coordinator by day, and a Medical Reserve Corps coordinator by night. Yes, that’s right. When disasters happen in any one of my areas at any time, I jump into response mode!
I love disasters. Not to say I love what they bring with them, but I love the opportunity to protect the community where I live and work by providing focused coordination for people who want to do good work for the people who need it most. In case you’re not familiar, a Medical Reserve Corps unit is a team of dedicated medical and non-medical professionals who have committed their own personal time to promoting disaster preparedness, response, and often times public health. Literally people who have made a decision to become part of something bigger than themselves.
Working with people who have actually donated their time because they care about their community as much as I do is a complete privilege and an honor. In Virginia, we have over 13,000 members (to my last recollection). That is 13,000 people who have said, yes! I cared enough to commit my free time to preparedness. 13,000 people who could potentially be looking after you in a shelter, a disease outbreak, a mass shooting, an act of terrorism. 13,000 people who don’t need us, but how much we need them is unfathomable.
Everyone cares about emergency preparedness directly following the impact of a natural disaster or a catastrophic event. But in order for emergency management to do any good at all, we need people to care what happens when nothing is happening. And it isn’t always the easiest job in the world to convince people to spend money they don’t have on things that will “never happen here.”
Well then, aren’t you lucky? No matter what state you’re in, MRC members are turning the idea of preparedness into the act of preparedness. I think we all recognize that statistically speaking, prepared communities are more resilient before, during and after a disaster. And it isn’t just the MRC by any means, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), American Red Cross, and various Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are also becoming the conduits for our message. Being word of mouth advertising, planning for their families and themselves.
Want to spread a message of preparedness quickly and efficiently and skip the part where you convince people it’s necessary? Try one of these free resources that include people who have already made a statement – I’m part of something bigger than myself.
Virginia MRC: www.vamrc.org
National MRC: www.medicalreservecorps.gov
American Red Cross: www.redcross.org