An Initiative to Enhance Disaster Preparedness for Future Disaster Events in Rio Grande Valley

Background

Dr. Dean Kyne and a group of his graduate students in Disaster Studies M.A. program recently conducted a research study to investigate disaster preparedness of individuals living in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). The study findings reveal that only 7% of the total respondents (573) were observed both "objectively" and "subjectively" prepared for future disaster events. The study's title is Individual Disaster Preparedness for Building A Hurricane Disaster Resilient Rio Grande Valley which will appear in the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters.

The current state of low disaster preparedness is a major concern in this hurricane prone RGV, where a few hurricanes hard hit in the past years. One of the recommendations provided by the study is to provide an educational training program in order to increase the individual disaster preparedness level. Keeping in mind the current low disaster preparedness, Dr. Walter Diaz, Dean of College of Liberal Arts, Dr. William Donner, Coordinator of Disaster Studies MA Program and Dr. Kyne initiated an educational program, CERT, in order to enhance disaster preparedness in the valley. They closely worked together to organize and offer a CERT training class which is endorse by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On April 2, 2018, on the first day of the CERT class at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the UTRGV and the City of Weslaco officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly offer the CERT Training to UTRGV students in Spring 2018 and Fall 2018. In the MOU, Dr. Kyne was named as Coordinator of CERT Training program.       

What is CERT Program?

"The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks. Through CERT, the capabilities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters is built and enhanced (Source: www.ready.gov)."

Objectives

Upon completion of the CERT training, students are expected to:

  • help themselves in an event of disaster or emergency,

  • help their immediate family members; their extended family members; and their community members, and

  • have an opportunity to become a volunteer to an official disaster response team in disaster effected areas in the country.  

Current Status as of July 30, 2018

A CERT Training Class was offered to UTRGV students in Spring 2018. Three sessions from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm were held on April 7, 14, and 21, 2018. There were 79 students who participated in the training program. The class has been scheduled to offer in Fall 2018.

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CERT Training Program at UTRGV (Spring 2018)

CERT Training was offered to UTRGV students on April 7, 14, and 21, 2018. There were 79 students who participated in the training program.

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Day 1 (April 7, 2018)

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Scholarly Engaged Learning

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Day 2 (April 14, 2018)

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Day 3 (April 21, 2018)

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CERT Training Spring 2018 Video (17:37 minutes)

This 17 minute-video contains highlighted learning activities in the CERT class offered in Spring 2018.