At an informal celebration tonight in Roxbury, 20 neighborhood organizations will be honored for their work helping to prepare residents in different areas of emergency preparedness. Since 2005, the Office of Public Health Preparedness in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness (MOEP) and the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay has provided funding for neighborhood groups, community health centers and other organizations to put together and run community outreach and education programs.
«The City is grateful for the work done by these community organizations,» Barbara Ferrer, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said. «Their partnership is critical to our efforts to reach residents in every pocket of our City. As we have seen with the recent hurricanes, preparing for emergencies is something residents need to take seriously.»
The initiative is known as Emergency Planning for Boston’s Neighborhoods. This year, each of the 20 groups received $10,000 grants for their outreach programs. This allows community based organizations to identify vulnerable populations, educate residents about the City’s emergency plans, and assist City officials in identifying areas that may require additional planning and resources.
«This initiative has been a great way for our resources to reach residents throughout Boston,» Boston EMS Chief Richard Serino said. «Having community leaders and not just those of us in uniform talk to families about ways they can prepare makes a great impact. It is so important for families to have basic knowledge of emergency preparedness so if an incident does occur they won’t panic and will know how to respond.»
From teaching the community how to create a «go bag» and the importance of having a family plan, to home preparedness and how materials would be dispersed in an emergency, these organizations are helping us reach residents.
The City provides the materials and also the basic information and the groups tweak the presentation to best meet the needs of their community. The primary focus of the programs has been on general population knowledge with some targeted outreach made to the City’s «at-risk» populations, for example foreign language speakers, elderly, mobility-impaired, etc.
ABCD North / West End
Boston Center for Independent Living
Boston Society of Vulcans
East Boston Harborside Community Center
JP Tree of Life
Justice Resource Institute
Healthy Roslindale Coalition
Latino American Health
Mattapan Community Health Center
Neponset Community Health Center
South Boston Action Center
Southwest Boston Senior Service
South End Community Health Center
Uphams Corner Health Center
For example, the South End Community Health Center (SECHC) held a panel discussion that aired on the Boston Neighborhood TV Network using local experts on children emergency planning, including the director and staff of the center. DVDs of the panel discussion were recorded and distributed to area service providers, enabling more people to receive mass dispensing training. Utilizing youth groups to prepare and distribute the give-aways provided discussion and debate about the Emergency Preparedness Program among the youth. Healthy Roslindale’s Coalitions youth group, the «Rosie Reps» participated in presentations of Mass Dispensing and Emergency Preparedness.
For more information about this and more programs the Office of Public Health Preparedness offers, please go to http://www.bphc.org/programs/.