Disasters and emergencies can strike at anytime and anywhere. But how many of us are actually prepared to respond to an emergency? Many citizens are relying on first responders to assist them; however, provincial and municipal governments have communicated that households and communities must be prepared to be on their own for the first 72 hours of an emergency.
Eva Bogdan (University of Alberta) and Stephanie Sodero (Memorial University) designed the We’re Ready! Community Disaster Preparedness Program to address the gap in emergency preparation at the community level and the shortage of resources at the municipal level. The purpose of the We’re Ready! Project is to facilitate neighbourhoods in designing and implementing their own disaster program through fun and engaging community-building activities. The Program consists of one-day workshops with the following goal: Through We’re Ready! residents are collectively prepared for emergencies and respond in ways that reduce confusion and distress, prevent injury and save lives, and minimize or avoid damages. Deliverables of the workshop: participants design their own customized community disaster plan, including hazard and evacuation maps; communication plans; and a community capacity inventory.
Disaster preparedness and response programs are more successful when they are community-driven and if community members had participated in planning and training for response prior to the event. We’re Ready! is intended to complement existing emergency preparedness programs, to build on effective strategies, and to promote collaboration which is considered key for success. This Program is community-based, rather than individual and household-based, and builds on the principles of adult education.
The Program was piloted in the Town of High River on May 28 & 29, 2016 for an ethnic community and a geographic community with great success. Town of High River representatives (Emergency Management, Filipino Community Association, and Foothills Community Immigrant Services) and community-members were involved in the further development, organization, and implementation of the workshops. See our presentation at the Resilient Calgary Symposium.