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Changing the Preparedness Meme...

To change the preparedness meme we need to effectively transfer a sense of risk ownership to the citizenry. The most effective and comprehensive way to do this is via youth education in the schools. Topics such as knowledge of hazards, preparedness steps, protective actions, risk ownership, citizen accountability and community collaboration need to be taught across the curriculum in grades K-12. This requires a partnership between FEMA, the Dept. of Education and key textbook manufacturers - this requires a fundamental shift in current underlying messages about these topics. If children are always taught that they are responsible for owning their own risk and then provided the information and tools to deal with those risks they will create a different citizenry for FEMA to deal with in the future. This is equal opportunity preparedness - every kid in every school receives the same message, the same tools throughout their years of formal schooling. The end result - communities filled with folks who understand that they have a key role in their own safety and risk management. This understanding will fundamentally change the way EMs do business in that the citizenry (which ultimately is the whole of society - be it as a general citizen, business, nonprofit or governmental rep) will operate with a shared understanding and expectations. This is a long-term strategy that requires long-term vision, but seeing as we will always have to address hazards and risk and will never have adequate resources we need to invest in changing the preparedness meme.

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Submitted by madamgovnr 2 years ago

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Comments (5)

  1. Not all preparedness subjects are appropriate for every grade level, K-12. You can teach stop, drop, and roll (fire protection) concepts to lower grades ...but more advanced concepts must be reserved for upper grades. What I hope to see is high school emergency management education ... along the same lines we now have agriculture and FFA (Future Farmers of America)training in most rural high schools.

    2 years ago
  2. I think this extends beyond FEMA and Dept of Education at the national level. There are opportunities at state and local levels to work with this as well. It's not just about preparedness, but it's about familiarity with the hazards, their likelihood, their history and where you are. Much of that can and should be done at the local levels instead of at the federal FEMA/DOE level. Additionally, being able to supplement material with locally relevant information is a big deal. Many teachers and administrators feel hamstrung with the testing requirements from No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This places them in a situation where they don't adapt the material to locally relevant context. Should someone in California be prepared for a Hurricane or someone in Alaska a tornado? How about Hawaii and Winter Storms? There should be a place where teachers can go for resources (resource center) on various hazards, history, likelihood, what to do, etc. Much of that should be built from the ground up - incorporating in as much information from "my locality" or "my state" as possible, and then going off of the national level information to supplement. People in New England don't need to learn about Katrina - they need to learn about the 1938 Long Island Express. Likewise, people in the Central Gulf should be able to start with Katrina and Camille (from local data), but extend beyond that if desired.

    2 years ago
    1. Well, Katrina lessons in preparedness (nursing homes) and management (local, state and federal) should not be ignored. I thought we may have revisited 1938 but Irene brought her own agenda.

      In high school we had gym and Health education. Perhaps a semester of emergency management with emphasis on how to think and manage rather then events. Or part of civics study with Public Safety and Works with extended looks at NGO's and VOAD's activities.

      2 years ago
  3. What I hope to see is high school emergency management education.Much of that can and should be done at the local levels instead of at the federal FEMA/DOE level.

    Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters,as well

    as educating them to their rolls in Disasters, should be developed in the training at the local level on hazards specific to each area.

    2 years ago
  4. Do you have something that supports the statement that this is the "most effective and comprehensive way to do this is via youth education in the schools"?

    The most difficult part may be: "partnership between FEMA, the Dept. of Education and key textbook manufacturers" since I do not recall seeing any current underlying messages about these topics.

    2 years ago