Tactical Advancement in New Orleans: Disaster Prep in the Classroom

August 22, 2012

The New Orleans (LA) Regional Planning Commission (RPC) has partnered with Save the Children, the University of New Orleans, and parish emergency managers in southeast Louisiana to better prepare kids for disasters. Additional partners include the Louisiana Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

This is focused on modifying existing classroom curricula to excite children to learn more about preparedness.

This initiative is focused on modifying existing classroom curricula (i.e.: math, science, health and safety, etc.) to excite children to learn more about preparedness, while reducing to a minimum any additional work on the part of the teachers in the classroom. Additionally, this initiative is focused on producing a “culture of preparedness” in the household, by having the children act as “mini ambassadors” urging mom and dad, or other guardians, to become more aware of potential disasters, and be prepared.(Editor's Note: more on youth influence here.)

We feel that educating our children is the first step towards creating a safer future for our state, in which families are prepared and better able to care for themselves.

The curricula would address observance not only to factors such as severe weather, which could affect any location at any time, but also to specific geographic hazards, such as production plant explosions/fires and train derailments that have rail cars carrying hazardous materials. The goal is not paranoia, but a sense of knowing what is around oneself.

The goal is not paranoia, but a sense of knowing what is around oneself.

Students need to be engaged to become not only more aware, but also knowing what actions have to be taken to protect themselves.

Currently district superintendents (throughout the state) are being surveyed to determine what if any programs are being taught to better prepare kids, and/or if any partnerships have been established in the school districts to address preparedness.

The next step is surveying parish emergency managers to determine what, if any, programs they have established in their respective parishes. Both surveys will produce a “baseline” to determine the level of efforts in each parish, as well as avoid duplication of efforts and identify best practices.

The partnership is seeking business engagement in this pilot program, and it is felt that the initiative could be replicated in other states around the country.

The partnership is seeking business engagement in this pilot program.

Editor's Note: If your company is interested in learning more about this pilot, contact BCLC's disaster lead, Gerald McSwiggan, who can make the connections for you.