WillowCERT’s Participation in Alaska Shield

The original link is posted here.

The Alaska Shield 2019 Preparedness Exercise, a large scale exercise designed to test local agencies preparedness for real world events, was conducted this past weekend and was a success. We would like to thank all of the agency employees and the dozens of character actor volunteers for giving their time to help our community build capacity to handle natural disasters, wildfires, cyber attacks and the possible impacts from pandemic events.

Agencies participating in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough portion of the Alaska Shield 2019 exercise were:

Mat-Su Emergency Management (MSB EM)
Mat-Su Emergency Services (MSB EMS)
Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD)
Mat-Su Regional Medical Center(MSRMC)
Mat-Su Public Health Center (MSPHC)
The Salvation Army USA
American Red Cross of Alaska, Mat-Su
Team Rubicon
Team Rubicon – Region 9
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM)
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)

#Alaskashield19 #MatSuEM #teamrubicon

9 members of Willow CERT participated Alaska Shield 2019 statewide emergency exercise yesterday. Our team worked with Mat Su Borough Dept. of Emergency Services, State of AK Public Health, Red Cross, Team Rubicon and many other volunteers.

Our team had previously taken a full day CDC “Essentials of Point of Dispensing” (POD) course. The purpose of setting up a POD could be for the administration of medication or immunizations in the event of a pandemic or biohazard emergency. Because that training we felt prepared to function in the various roles we were assigned to at the POD for Alaska Shield.

The simulated event was an outbreak of Pneumonic Plague, which is very contagious and has a high fatality rate, if not treated early with antibiotics. Over 200 fantastic community volunteer actors moved through the POD and were screened, treated or referred as needed.

MSB Dept of Emer. Services and the Public Health Nurses did a great job organizing this valuable exercise. It was awesome to have so many groups working together cooperatively!

FEMA: Building Cultures of Preparedness

Download the report in PDF format here.

I. Executive Summary
The first goal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) 2018–2022 Strategic Plan is to Build a Culture of Preparedness. Preparedness strategies to date have increased first responder and government capabilities, but individual and community progress towards enhanced levels of preparedness has been limited. Achieving the 2018–2022 Strategic Plan’s vision of enhanced preparedness requires a bottom-up approach to close these gaps.
This report highlights the vast diversity of American communities and households, indicating that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not well-suited to the specific demands of variable and distinctive environments – our Culture of Preparedness will have to be built one community at a time. Preparedness is a local matter, requiring solutions tailored to different cultural contexts and embraced by communities. Supporting the vision of a resilient nation in the Strategic Plan requires us to think in the plural, in terms of building “Culture(s) of Preparedness.”

Prior to the publication of this report, FEMA’s Higher Education Program held a workshop focused on the implication of “culture” in FEMA’s new strategic priority, sustainable preparedness choices, and why past efforts to build a Culture of Preparedness were not met with desired levels of success.

This report presents a culture-based approach to the preparedness goals laid out in the Strategic Plan. It lays out four Guiding Principles for building Cultures of Preparedness, followed by practical strategies and examples that demonstrate successful outcomes in real-world settings:
1. Trust – Develop trust by understanding the culture, context, and history of communities outside of disaster, as well as when an event occurs.
2. Inclusion – Bring the cultural perspectives of all stakeholders to the table.
3. Cross-cultural communication – Design communication efforts as cross-cultural encounters.
4. Support local practices and successes – Learn about the ways people are already prepared and enhance these efforts using culturally aware strategies.
To operationalize the four Guiding Principles that underlie this culture-based approach to preparedness, we recommend a novel methodology: the use of Culture Brokers.

Culture Brokers for Disaster Preparedness are people with local knowledge and the trust of community members. They are capable of bridging gaps, are willing to help, and would be trained to use the four Guiding Principles to enhance local levels of preparedness. Recruiting these individuals can help outside organizations and local communities connect, build trust, and share knowledge. Such a methodology has been proven effective in educational, medical, and public health environments and holds great promise for helping FEMA and its state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners achieve new preparedness targets among the Nation’s diverse communities and hard to reach cultural groups.

Finally, the report notes that institutions of higher learning can make unique contributions to building Cultures of Preparedness. Their research and innovation capacity can help generate new approaches to enhanced preparedness, while social scientists well-versed in local histories, cultures, and culturally appropriate methods of community engagement can help emergency management professionals extend their reach and meet critical preparedness objectives.

CERT class from Talkeetna

Upper Susitna Valley Takes the Leap

Over weekends, 14 members of 3 different communities participated in and graduated from the 20 hr Basic CERT training program.  Folks from Talkeetna, Sunshine, Caswell, Willow and Wasilla came together to learn the skills that will help them and their

communities when disaster strikes.  Students learned skills in preparedness, fire safety, medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism and CERT structure.  On the final day they had the opportunity to practice the skills learned.  We are excited to see where this new Upper Su CERT team will go.  They have already secured a Sponsor.  A huge shout out “Thank You” to the groups that helped make this happen.  Upper Susitna Senior Center, Sunshine Community Health Center, Red Cross, the MatSu Borough and of course Willow CERT for pulling it all together. 

Sunshine Community Health Center provided 10 of their staff to be victims of a tour bus accident.  The accident make up combined with a real bus added to the students experience.


CERT training for the Upper Su Valley, March 9, 10, 16 & 17 at the Sunshine Senior Center

Willow CERT in partnership with the Mat Su Borough, Red Cross and Sunshine Clinic, will be hosting a 20hr Basic CERT training in March 2019
The class is free but registration is required.  The class will take place over two consecutive weekends, March 9, 10, 16 & 17 at the Sunshine Senior Center.  Seating is limited so sign up early.  For additional questions, please contact Kathy Watkins at watkins9351@live.com or cell 907-795-0969