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How three EIG teams helped government prepare for natural disasters

October 2, 2020

Wildfires, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters create havoc in communities, particularly if localities are not ready to respond—a concern three teams of senior federal employees addressed while participating in the Partnership’s Excellence in Government Fellows program. Here are three EIG efforts to improve the country’s response to natural disasters and promote disaster planning.

Providing for people with disabilities

People with disabilities are especially vulnerable during natural disasters, typically requiring extra assistance to evacuate in advance. And they often have to rely on public shelters that lack proper accommodations.

Five members of the 2018 EIG cohort developed a toolkit and community preparedness training events for governments at all levels to better serve people with disabilities. The fellows partnered with local emergency management and public health agencies to hold “Prepare Fairs,” that provided disaster plans, conducted preparedness activities, recommended  “emergency essentials” kits and shared critical accessibility information on disaster planning. The fairs “provided a pathway for future success to provide inclusive preparedness for our whole community,” said Dustin Heiser, director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency.

Offering first aid training in natural disasters

Recognizing that federal responders often need to treat injured residents during disasters, another 2018 EIG team took on a project to provide more federal workers with first aid tools and training. The team collaborated with Stop the Bleed—a training program started by trauma surgeons and other medical professionals—to hold 10 training sessions for more than 200 people. The EIG fellows also identified the proper room placements for new bleeding control equipment, helping first responders develop new first aid skills and gain confidence using them. Indeed, more than 97% of training session attendees said they felt comfortable applying what they learned to help strangers in need.

Improving earthquake safety

A 2019 EIG team discovered that the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Office Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, housing 590 employees, sits in an active seismic zone, yet did not have an earthquake response plan. The team took the lead to develop one. Team members worked with the region’s emergency manager and the General Services Administration to identify leading practices for earthquake preparedness. They also worked with the building manager to install an earthquake detector and reprogram existing fire control units in the building. And they organized earthquake safety drills and workshops for office staff. These efforts resulted in a large increase in the percentage of workers in the building who felt prepared to handle an earthquake—87% of employees said they felt more prepared, up from the initial 41%.

The EIG Fellows program empowers federal leaders to develop effective solutions to real-world problems such as natural disasters. Click here more information and apply before the October 9 deadline.

Read more about other EIG results projects on our blog:

This post is by Kiki Marlam, an intern on the Partnership’s Communications team.