DExecuting the Plan
Developing Emergency Preparedness Materials
The mayor’s office works with the Office of Emergency Management and other emergency management agencies to develop a citizen-friendly guide to the city’s emergency plan. This document should set out the most likely disaster scenarios within the jurisdiction, identify first responders and their roles, describe the emergency information system, and explain evacuation and shelter procedures. In addition, a set of simple community maps and lists of key telephone numbers, websites, radio stations and information resources should be included. (See the Resources section for more information.) To supplement the guide, the mayor’s office enlists local first responders or leading volunteer organizations focused on disaster preparedness to develop a household toolkit. The toolkit is a short document outlining the provisions and materials a family should always have on hand in case of disaster or emergency. This document can be adapted from existing toolkits that are available from other cities or the federal government. (See the Resources section for more information.)
Creating A Local Outreach Strategy
Once the emergency preparedness materials have been developed, the mayor’s office solicits input from local community groups, volunteer organizations, or first responders to customize the materials to specific neighborhoods. For example, these partners can help identify the locations of local shelters and other neighborhood specific resources, so that the information can be included in the distributed materials. In addition, these partners can help develop an outreach plan that identifies targeted areas (e.g., impoverished communities with little access to information or language barriers) and outlines a strategy for deploying volunteers to reach audiences in these locations.
The mayor’s office enlists local partners to recruit and manage volunteers. Two tiers of volunteers will be needed: lead volunteers, who must have prior experience with disaster training or response, such as having completed Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or American Red Cross programs, and outreach volunteers, for whom no prior experience is necessary.
- Preparing lead volunteers: The lead volunteers will complete a half-day (e.g., three hours) in-depth training from the Office of Emergency Management (or the appropriate lead emergency management agency appointed by the mayor) on the content of the emergency preparedness materials, as well as how to present the materials to an audience and answer questions that might arise. Using their prior experience in disaster training or response, these volunteers should be well-equipped to discuss unsettling scenarios in a calm and confident manner. As a condition of their participation, lead volunteers will commit to conducting a minimum number of 45-minute formal presentations4 to large groups each year (as an example, some cities feel that a minimum of four per year is a feasible target).
- Training outreach volunteers: In addition to conducting presentations, lead volunteers are expected to train and manage outreach volunteers who have not previously completed CERT or similar training. Toward that end, lead volunteers will coordinate with partner organizations to set up training sessions with teams of outreach volunteers across the city. At these sessions (e.g., ninety minutes or two hours), lead volunteers facilitate a discussion on the emergency resources available in the community, the specific content of the emergency preparedness materials, as well as the key messages to communicate to households as outreach volunteers disseminate the materials provided. Having already received in-depth training and conducted formal presentations, lead volunteers will share insights from their experiences to personalize the conversation.
- Informing and preparing the public: Upon completion of the training, outreach volunteers will canvass neighborhoods to engage in conversations with individual households about emergency preparedness. They will provide each household with a copy of the citizen’s emergency guide and toolkit, and discuss what steps to take in the event of an emergency and how to use the toolkit. They can also offer to help households create disaster plans and/or prepare emergency supplies
While Prepared is Protected is a low-cost initiative, the program will incur expenses related to printing emergency preparedness materials and transporting volunteers to training sessions, presentations, and neighborhood canvassing activities. In some cities, in-kind resources can be secured – for example, printing companies in the community may print emergency preparedness materials free of charge or partner organizations may provide vehicles to transport volunteers. If additional support is needed, grants from federal and state agencies or private foundations may be available. If seeking philanthropic or governmental grant funding, the mayor’s office or non-profit partners may develop a short proposal that describes the opportunity for support and how the funds would be used. Elements of a typical proposal should include:
- Description of the Prepared is Protected initiative
- How this initiative would positively impact the city and mitigate the worst outcomes imposed by a disaster
- Amount of funding requested, proposed breakdown of grant(s) and how those funds would be used (budget is dependent on number of partners and respective roles of each partner)
- Metrics that would be collected to assess progress
- Information on Cities of Service (this is especially helpful for national organizations)
- Recognition plan for the donor (e.g., logo on t-shirts, branding on your city’s service website, etc.)
Recognizing and Thanking Volunteers
Volunteer recognition is an effective recruitment and retention tool. Once volunteers have completed a presentation or neighborhood canvassing, following up with them is encouraged. For instance, consider sending volunteers a thank you letter with the details of their involvement (e.g., when and where they completed the presentation/ canvassing with an estimate of the number of people reached). Sending wallet-size emergency preparation cards or t-shirts with basic emergency preparation procedures may also be considered as a gesture of gratitude.