Nearly 300 families participated in a Disaster Preparedness Event in 2012, including some 25 refugee families accompanied by trained interpreters from MAMI.
Oneida County Director of Health Gayle Jones doesn’t want to wait until a tragedy strikes for people to take action. “Anything can happen to anyone at anytime, and so those are moments where people panic and things are out of our control,” Jones told news media. “So we want people to understand … what to do in the event of an emergency.”
MAMI executive director Cornelia Brown noted: “The event raised the level of awareness about what people should do to prepare for any type of disaster. There were stations with experts providing practical information and handouts, and each family received a disaster starter kit.” The kit included such items as a bucket, hand-crank weather radio, first-aid kit, water storage container, waterproof document holder, paper, pens, emergency preparedness guide, duct tape, plastic sheeting, work gloves, nitrile gloves, whistle, poncho, blanket and light sticks.
Participants learned about local hazards, such as winter storms, flooding, severe weather like tornadoes, and hazardous materials. They were advised to make a plan to keep their families safe, and consider their individual needs and what supplies/materials they should have available. They were also advised to develop a family communication plan, including out-of-town contacts.
The MAMI interpreters helped communicate the information to families who spoke Karen, Burmese and Arabic, and assisted them with assembling disaster preparedness starter kits.
In his comments to news media, County Executive Anthony Picente summed it up: “Prepare a kit, make a plan, and be informed; it’s the traditional things we talk to young people about in schools, but it’s more important for all of us, every family, every adult, everyone who’s responsible.”
Agencies that were involved in organizing the event included: American Red Cross, Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Citizen Corp, Herkimer-Oneida Organizations Active in Disaster (HOOAD), Kids Oneida, Inc., Lutheran Disaster Relief, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, MAMI (Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters) , Oneida County Animal Response Team (CART), Oneida County Office of Emergency Management, Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, Resource Center for Independent Living, Rome Memorial Hospital, and The Salvation Army.