STANTON — September marks the ninth annual National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Montcalm County Emergency Services officials are looking to simplify emergency preparedness for residents by providing accessible, convenient and easy-to-understand information and supplies.
“One of our big goals is to start doing a lot more community stuff than we have in the past,” said Emergency Services Director Dave Feldpausch. “We want to help everyone understand there’s a lot of free information out there.”
Montcalm County Emergency Services currently has more than $10,000 worth of weather radios to distribute to qualified people, via Homeland Security funding. The equipment includes 115 radios with strobe lights for the hearing impaired, 102 radios with digital features for the visually impaired and 50 smaller portable radios for people with mobility issues.
Emergency Services also has 94 visual language translators — plastic information sheets with brightly colored pictures people can point to when trying to describe what they are suffering from to emergency officials when there is a language barrier.
Emergency Services also has CDs to teach first responders how to address special needs patients, CDs explaining emergency preparedness to the general population and a wealth of emergency preparedness literature.
Feldpausch is being assisted in his efforts by a newly formed public relations committee comprised of Doris Case and Chris Olson, both supervisors for Emergency Medical Services, Administrative Aide Pamela Riker (formerly Boody) and Advanced Life Support employees Julie Church and Kaziah McKendry.
The committee is working to bring new life to the Do 1 Thing initiative, which was originally implemented in Montcalm County in 2006. Do 1 Thing started in Clinton, Gratiot and Ingham counties and is an ongoing educational preparedness program to encourage people to prepare themselves, their families and their community for emergencies by doing one thing each month.
“One of the programs we wanted to bring back to the forefront is Do 1 Thing,” Riker said “When you talk about disaster preparedness, it can be kind of overwhelming, so we’re focusing on just one thing per month. I think by breaking it down it seems more attainable. You just need to focus on water or food or clothes.”
“We want to be available to the community, if needed, and this is one way that we can teach them something to be prepared,” Case added.
“There’s just so much chaos in an emergency situation, it would be nice to have a little black box with some of the things you need,” Olson summarized.
The committee also is working in conjunction with the Montcalm County Commission on Aging to get more people to use the Vial of Life, a generic prescription bottle with medications and a list of medication directions for emergency officials to refer to. Empty pill bottle donations are appreciated for this cause.
Montcalm County Emergency Services officials are hoping to spread the word about emergency preparedness, as well as to inspire more people to volunteer for the local Citizen Corps, which includes the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Fire Corps, Medical Reserve Corps, Neighborhood Watch and Volunteer In Police Service (VIPS).
“It’s really based on what your background is and what your passion is,” said Riker of participating in a Citizen Corps group. “I believe everybody, no matter who you are, should be trained in CERT, which is a 20-hour class and it’s free.”
Feldpaush is hoping to get Citizen Corps groups involved in hosting a Disaster Preparedness 101 class, for which he already has 306 custom-made binders to use as textbooks.
“We’d really like to encourage people to get involved in their own communities,” Feldpausch said. “The more prepared you are, the more you’ll be able to help your neighbor. We want communities to be able to help themselves.”
For more information, call Feldpausch at (989) 831-7583 or visit do1thing.com or fema.gov online.
“What seems like an overwhelming task when you first look at it, really isn’t all that bad,” Feldpausch said.