The Montgomery County, MD Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has developed a new educational outreach program called Storm Camp. Storm Camp is a free half day interactive educational event for adults and children that promotes disaster preparedness for the county’s residents.
Each Storm Camp presentation will include both an adult program and programs for children ages 4-10, all of which will run simultaneously in different rooms of the facility. The adult portion of the program will include education on the types of threats and hazards to which Montgomery County is susceptible, basic first aid and emergency response actions, and disaster preparedness activities that can be undertaken by individuals, households, and communities. The disaster preparedness recommendations will be based on and guided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA, 2013) guidelines to “be informed, make a plan, build a kit, get involved,” with instructions on how to comply with each of those recommendations being stressed throughout the presentations.
The children’s portion of the program will be divided into two age groups: 4-6 and 7-10 year olds and run by CERT volunteers with a background in child education. This will be conducted as what Coppola and Maloney (2009) describe as a “children’s ‘edutainment’ program” (p. 239). Each group will participate in fun, age-appropriate, disaster preparedness themed activities that will involve the use of a take-home activity book that is entertaining and encourages disaster preparedness activities in the home and at school.
The presentations will be given in the community at the request of a host organization such as a faith based organization, civic association, etc. The concept of providing the training at various locations throughout the county is an important aspect of the program and is in keeping with the FEMA (2011) doctrine of “engaging with members of the community as vital partners in enhancing the resiliency and security of our Nation through a Whole Community approach” (p. 2).
The pilot presentation and kickoff event for this campaign will be held on March 29, 2014 at the Montgomery County, MD Public Service Headquarters building in Gaithersburg, MD. Additional details and registration instructions for this event can be found at http://montgomerycert.org/storm-camp/
We are very excited about this program and its ability to reach out into the community and teach emergency preparedness in an interactive manner at a grassroots level. Over the next few months, we will be compiling a toolkit of lessons learned and best practices regarding the development, implementation, and improvement of this program. If you are interesting in learning more about this process, are interested in implementing a similar program in your jurisdiction, or have any other questions about our program, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coppola D. P. & Maloney, E. K. (2009). Communicating emergency preparedness. New York: CRC Press.
U. S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). (2011). A whole community approach to emergency management: principles, themes, and pathways for action. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1813-25045-0649/whole_community_dec2011__2_.pdf
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). (2013). Are you ready? guide. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.ready.gov/are-you-ready-guide