April 15, 2013. 2:49 p.m. Boylston Street in Boston.
For the citizens and guests of Boston, the events that occurred on this date will forever be memorialized. Since that day, we are only too aware of the need to prepare for and respond to emergencies, an understanding most of us didn’t have before.
The professionals at the DelValle Institute for Emergency Preparedness, however, have been planning for a long time. DelValle has been educating first responders, public healthcare workers, and healthcare agencies since 2003. For the first time this year, DelValle will offer an online course entitled Community Preparedness Basics: Ready, Safe, Healthy designed for the residents of Boston.
Community Preparedness Basics was funded by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant via the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region and the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management. Launching in September, Community Preparedness invites all citizens to Get Ready, Be Safe, Stay Healthy.
This messaging also underscores the course’s structure. In Community Preparedness Basics, the virtual instructor walks the resident through preparing an emergency plan and kit; learning about city resources that can help during an emergency; taking care of oneself and others during an event; and staying healthy physically and emotionally.
Most important, the learner begins to understand why he or she should prepare. Learners are asked what they would need to do in an emergency, bringing the course to life for them. After each citizen has learned how to ‘Get Ready, Be Safe, Stay Healthy,” he/she is also invited to “take the pledge,” a series of specific actions he or she promises to complete. Community Preparedness Basics allows the learner to choose the order of topics and takes about an hour to finish in its entirety. The course is in English and can be accessed via a home computer or at any local library.
While Community Preparedness Basics is available to anyone, DelValle’s staff clearly designed it for Bostonians. Surrounded by photos of Boston landmarks, the people depicted in the course frames are real Boston residents. “This signals to people, ‘this was built for you,’ “explains S. Atyia Martin, Director of the Office of Health Preparedness at the BPHC. “It gives people an opportunity to start a conversation about emergency preparedness.”
DelValle’s focus on online learning began in 2011. Mea Allen, Senior Program Manager for Online Learning at the Office of Public Health Preparedness, led the effort to grow online learning at DelValle. Approximately one year ago, Allen started the work on Community Preparedness Basics and hired EnVision Performance Solutions to help with the project. EnVision had helped DelValle develop a previous course, Continuity of Operations Planning Made Practical.
EnVision performed the instructional design and managed the production of Community Preparedness Basics, proving to be a valuable partner. “We hired EnVision a few years back, and we were happy to have them on board,” said Allen. “We knew we could depend on them to help us meet the deadlines while still supporting high-quality design and production.”
Community Preparedness Basics is one of several delivered by DelValle, which has also launched the following in 2013, with the help of EnVision: Emergency Operations Planning (EOP), Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) Planning, and Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Triage. The planning courses are designed for emergency managers of healthcare institutions such as hospitals and community health centers, while first responders will benefit most from the MCI Triage course.
The events of the marathon bombing show that emergency preparation does not solely reside with traditional first responders. With the expert help of the DelValle Institute, we can all become qualified to manage the unexpected. “Preparing for disaster is each person’s responsibility, because at the end of the day, we are all first responders,” says Allen. “We need to take care of our families as best we can while help is on the way. If we’re all individually prepared, we become better prepared as a city and ultimately more resilient.”
Stay tuned – in our next Building Bridges, we will provide a link to Community Preparedness so you can experience the course yourself!