Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Traci Naile, who will be presenting at the EDEN Annual Meeting.
1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?
I believe I first got involved when I was a PhD student, and was looking into doing disaster work; I saw materials from EDEN. I was able to really get involved when I finished my PhD and started working at Texas A&M. I was able to attend my first conference while I was working at A&M, and have been going ever since.
2. Can you tell us about the study concerning incidence response planning at livestock shows?
That study was conducted by one of my graduate students at A&M. she wanted to find out what managers of large livestock shows knew and had done about incident planning. She wanted to find out if people on the government side know what was going on at the livestock side, and whether the show managers had actually talked to government partners in case something happened. She did interviews with big broad questions, and received great feedback about different things you have to think about when you are planning for shows, whether you are on the municipal side or the show side. One of the important things that came out of this study was the importance of communication. We will talk all about that at the EDEN Meeting, along with the other themes from the interview.
3. Can you tell us about the emergency management training requirements for Cooperative Extension personnel?
We sent a survey out to the EDEN Delegate listserve to find out what training requirements are in each state, and what EDEN professionals think should or should not be included. There is a lot of variability across states, so we wanted to find out why; why there is some training required and other training is not. We confirmed, with data, that the training requirements are widespread. Because of this survey we have a better sense of what training is required, what resources are used, and how EDEN delegates think we should be delivering disaster related training to Extension professionals.
4. Can you tell us a little about your involvement in disaster response experience in Oklahoma?
I am a Red Cross volunteer, and am specifically a local government liaison. I also work in operations management in bigger disaster responses. I have, both fortunately and unfortunately, been able to work disasters, and am fairly involved in that aspect. I also do other things related to the Red Cross: I am a volunteer leader for our chapter, on the local level. With that role I am the liaison to the county emergency response team, which has not been able to go out on anything yet because it just got started. But I am the go-between for the county team and the local Red Cross for setting up shelters and scheduling co-training. Another thing I do within our Red Cross region, Central Western Oklahoma, is the volunteer counterpart to the Senior Disaster Program Manager. I help plan events such as a mass care exercise for October and a statewide emergency management exercise. I also help train people on the new Red Cross procedures for responses. I am the subject matter expert for a training work group for the Red Cross divisional level, South Western Rocky Mountain division. So between all of these positions, I am very involved in preparing my area for a disaster.
5. What advice would you give to our delegates about the importance of communication before, during, and after a disaster?
It is absolutely vital! A big part is figuring out what communication means in the context of disasters. To me, communication is across partners and internally within an organization. Also having the people you work with trained to talk to partners. A lot of those beliefs come from my Red Cross background. In Oklahoma, we do not have a very cohesive response system because there is a lot of overlap. If you are communicating with all the other people preparing for a response, or in the recovery period after a response, it will be that much more efficient, and effective. For me that is where that communication piece comes in, and a large part of that is networking; making sure that you are clear internally and externally, have plans in place, and have worked to develop those relationships because they will be necessary when a disaster happens. That communication piece is extremely vital, because no one who is responding to a disaster can be expected to do everything, and do it effectively.