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HSEM helps future health-care professionals prepare for disasters and emergencies

Dec. 4, 2017

Photo of HSEM staff sharing their expertise in disaster recovery and emergency services with future health-care workers.
Photo: HSEM staff shared their expertise in disaster recovery and emergency services with future health-care workers at the Medical Reserve Corps Camp at Camp Ripley this weekend.

When some people imagine a career in health care, they think of calm office visits, regular hours, a routine. And health care careers can certainly involve those things. But health care can also involve much more extreme, less predictable aspects like disaster recovery and emergency services.

And how would one learn the skills to deal with such disasters and emergencies? Training and education, of course. That’s why the Minnesota branch of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) welcomed staff from Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) to their annual Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Camp at Camp Ripley, which took place Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

HOSA works to connect health occupations students with the training they need to move beyond the basic technical skills required for entry into the healthcare field. The goals of the MRC Camp are to help students build the knowledge and confidence to act and react to all types of disasters and to be informed of careers associated with disasters and emergencies and how to train for them.

HSEM staff conducted three different trainings for MRC Camp participants. The first was about disaster recovery and Minnesota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (MNVOAD). Disaster recovery involves assessing the needs of victims and communities once a disaster is over. This involves everything from cleanup for homeowners (after, say, a flood) to helping businesses get back to their regular operations. But it also involves health care, both emergent and long-term. Participants learned how their potential careers would fit into disaster scenarios, how to work with volunteers who can help, and how to find opportunities for volunteering in their own communities.

The second training HSEM staff conducted is known as “ICS-100,” which is an introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS). The ICS is a management system that helps organize facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures and communications in large-scale emergencies so that all assets are used as effectively and efficiently as possible. ICS-100 introduces people involved with emergency planning, response or recovery efforts to the history, features, principals and organizational structure of the ICS.

HSEM’s Minnesota School Safety Center conducted the third of the HSEM trainings, “StormReady in a Box.” The idea behind StormReady in a Box is to allow students and teachers to learn what they need to know to make sure their school is compliant with the National Weather Service’s StormReady Supporter program, which in turn can earn them recognition for their weather preparedness and awareness. This involves having facility warning point, using NOAA weather radios, and creating weather hazard emergency operations plans. Students also learned to create personal and family preparedness plans to respond to severe weather events. They came away with better situational awareness an preparedness planning skills for both school and home.

With HSEM sharing their expertise in disaster recovery and emergency services, the future health-care professionals who attended MRC Camp this weekend have a good sense of what they’ll need to know to help their communities prepare for and recover from disasters.