The government and the media exhort citizens to act, to behave, to plan for issues of safety and to obtain supplies when a hurricane is approaching. Most citizens comply, and these awareness and educational efforts have been helpful.  However, in many communities there are groups of individuals who may need a different approach to mobilize them so as to believe that they are “empowered” to be safe.


 These groups for many reasons are on a “survival mode” day by day and may need a supportive, sensitive and focused assistance to achieve the objectives of preparedness.  It will not be enough to present to them with pamphlets, TV spots, and list of activities or amonestations of what to do.  It is not the issue of quantity of materials, but the mode of transmitting the information giving support and guidance through the quality of transmitting the messages.  The method of conveying the information must be in consonance with the personal, cultural and societal needs of the specific population targeted.


An article in the Miami Herald stated recently,


On the cusp of a new hurricane season, Sheila Tobias is in a bind.


Generators, flashlights, batteries and nonperishable food are things that South Florida's poor and working-class families may not be able to afford for the coming storms. Among them is Tobias, a Miramar mother of two and a substitute school bus driver who makes $9 an hour.


''I don't have the extra money,'' said Tobias, 39. ``I have to take care of the kids, take care of school clothes. That's all the money I have.''


South Florida government leaders say they're concentrating on giving information to help residents prepare for and stay safe after a storm. Both Broward and Miami-Dade counties have hosted fairs and rallies to educate residents on evacuation routes and shelter locations and to advise them to buy food and supplies in increments. ''If there's a major event here, the elderly will face some very serious problems. There are enormous numbers of people that do not have cars,'' he said. ``We don't have the resources to help.''


Why do you need to be trained to prepare volunteers for Disaster Preparedness assistance so they in turn can help individuals in their community?  How does it differ from usual training?  Isn’t the training book simple and self-evident?  At the end of the day I hope you will have an answer, but let me offer to you some suggestions. It is important to realize that the skills needed to train for preparedness are different than those needed to help individuals after the disaster has struck, especially because you will also going be affected by the disaster.


Training volunteers to assist the community in disaster preparedness deals with managing a future potential traumatic event.  What does that mean?  It means that we are not only dealing with content material (the content in the book), but with additional issues that must be overcome. We have to convince the community of the need to prepare for a “potential event ” that most of us would like to believe will not happen, and for which we have ambivalent emotions and a great deal of inertia. There are also many factors that present real and concrete barriers that impede feeling capable of preparing our families, our homes, and ourselves.


If you simply present the contents of the book to different individuals, you will get a series of different reactions that can be recorded on a Bell shaped curve. At the foot of each side you would have a number of individuals who will follow all suggestions, while at the other, a group who will hardly pay any attention to them.  In between, you would obtain a gradient of numbers showing different levels of compliance with the advice.  The result will be that most individuals will not be prepared. We will explore what efforts should be added to your training so as to be successful, or at least increase the odds of success.


The memory of the painful post-hurricane period still lingers in our community, which has left many unforgettable fears. These memories mean that many of the individuals facing the new hurricane season may be more emotional and anxious than previously.  We need to be sensitive to this possibility.


Training to assist in preparedness demands different levels of content, attitude and skills during the different phases of a disaster.  There is a time for planning and a time for action in each phase.  We will be dealing only with the first phase - before a disaster strikes. We will present some basic research findings, documented data and experiences.  We will also present applied guidance and finish the day with exercises to strengthen your learning.