SaferCare Texas to host launch of state emergency preparedness, response collaborative

Southern Baptist Volunteer With Debris Clean UpIn response to the growing need for quick, effective disaster responses in Texas communities, SaferCare Texas is hosting a state emergency preparedness and response collaborative. The training is designed to help integrate community health workers into preparedness and response teams and activities around the state.

The event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday in Room 250 of The University of North Texas Health Science Center’s Interdisciplinary Research & Education Building, 3430 Camp Bowie Blvd.

The timing of this training couldn’t be more urgent. In 2022, Texas ranked second in the U.S. with the highest number of tornadoes, according to a Forbes Magazine article that uses NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory data. The recent tornado in Perryton killed three people, damaged 200 homes and directly hit the town’s fire department.

Dr. Teresa Wagner, interim director for SaferCare Texas, HSC’s patient safety-focused department, hopes this program will help communities like Perryton, where local response resources may be scarce.

“The completed program prepares community health workers to become a deployable asset within Texas during a state of emergency,” she said. “Deploying CHWs to assist vulnerable communities during a time of mass disruption was demonstrated to be an effective strategy during COVID-19. This initiative formalizes that process.”Teressa Wagner

CHWs who complete the inaugural training and three additional state-certified FEMA training modules will be rostered and have their information provided to local preparedness and response officials. This includes local health departments, local emergency management, Medical Reserve Corps Units, community emergency response teams and organizations that are a part of the Texas Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters network.

Multiple organizations were involved in the development and execution of the training, including the Texas Association of Promotores and Community Health Workers, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Center for Health Emergency Preparedness and Response, the Office of Border Public Health, the Texas Epidemic Public Health Institute and the Texas Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters.

Those attending the orientation will have the option of completing additional training to assist older adults during emergencies. CHWs who live in specific zip codes alongside vulnerable older adults within Tarrant County will have the option of receiving a $50 stipend if they complete all four training modules. This additional opportunity comes as part of HSC’s AIM-AHEAD project, a National Institutes of Health initiative to advance artificial intelligence and machine learning in addressing health disparities. Wagner hopes the AIM-AHEAD model will catch on around the state and country.

“Training CHWs to serve as critical emergency management resource for vulnerable individuals and underserved communities can buy precious time in public health emergencies and massive disruptions by meeting immediate physiological and safety needs until emergency services can abate the larger crisis and gain the capacity to arrive,” Wagner said.

Community health workers interested in participating in the training can register here.

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