LINCROFT, N.J -- After two weeks of hard work at the Sandy Recovery Field Office, members of FEMA –Corps’ Fox Four team debuted their emergency preparedness presentation at Long Branch High School on Monday, April 7.
Formerly known as FEMA Connect, the program presented by FEMA Corps recently was renamed, “Ready, Steady, Strong” to more clearly communicate its focus on emergency preparedness.
FEMA Corps is a branch of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps program (NCCC) created in 2012 when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) formed a partnership.
FEMA Corps members participate in a 10 month program in which members travel the country in teams, usually composed of a diverse group of 8-10 young adults, who work with FEMA on projects related to disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
Presently stationed at the NJ Sandy Recovery Office in Lincroft, NJ, FEMA Corps’ Fox Four team specializes in Disaster Survivor Assistance. FEMA Corps’ Fox Four is currently visiting schools throughout New Jersey in order to educate students on the importance of disaster preparedness using the FEMA Connect and FEMA for Kids programs.
During their presentation at Long Branch High, the team focused on informing students about emergency alert systems, discussing where to go in an emergency, creating contact cards, preparing emergency supply bags, creating household emergency plans, and encouraging students to get involved in their communities with programs such as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Americorps and FEMA Corps.
“The program is unique,” said Fox Four team leader Thomas Trapane. “We’re testing it out, so we get to utilize our skills and we have that freedom to adapt and do things the way we want…we get to go out and help students prepare for disasters. It’s enjoyable.”
All of the preparation team members did before their first presentation paid off as well. “[The team has] exceeded my expectation and we’ve exceeded the program’s expectations,” Trapane said. “We’re the first team to go out and present. They’re doing awesome at it… it’s been really good so far.”
Team member Samantha Masters was impressed by how well the students responded to the FEMA Connect presentation. “The students were very engaged. They enjoyed the activities, they participated, they asked questions, and they actually got involved making the disaster kit, and writing things down. They seemed like they enjoyed it.”
Like FEMA Connect, FEMA Corps’ FEMA for Kids program aims to teach pre-school through elementary school students how to prepare for household emergencies and potential disasters. It enforces the idea of being “ready” and encourages kids to be “prepared not scared.”
“[FEMA for Kids] was really interesting because it was little kids and it’s harder to keep them engaged, you could lose their attention quickly, but it was fun. We had a good time doing it” said Trapane.
The program employs creative and interactive activities to inform children of how to react in emergency situations and teaches them healthy habits including everything from personal hygiene to coping mechanisms. The team members debuted their FEMA for Kids program Friday April 11, at Cooper Elementary in Old Bridge.
“It went well. The children were energetic and ready to learn, which was good. I’m pretty sure they’ll take home to their parents the information we presented to them, and hopefully something good will come out of it – whether it’s building a disaster preparedness kit or just knowing where to go if there’s an emergency” reflects team member, Bakari Jones.
“I think that if we teach students about disaster preparedness, then they know more for the next disaster and we’re cutting down on all the possible injuries and things that could go wrong in the next disaster by preparing them ahead of time “ added team member Hanna Reynolds.
For many members of the team, this is their first time in New Jersey, and for some, it’s their first time in the Northeast United States. One of the best aspects of the FEMA Corps experience, team members said, is the chance to learn about, observe and experience a wide array of different communities and cultures with the opportunity to make a positive impact.
Joining FEMA Corps is a time consuming process filled with detailed applications, paperwork and interviews. Those who make it through the process are generally a diverse group demographically. However, they consistently have several particular characteristics in common: dedication, passion, and a strong will to help others and make a difference in communities throughout their country.
When asked about their overall experience in FEMA Corps, team leader Trapane said, “I think the idea of being able to meet a bunch of strangers essentially, and travel the country and help communities out is awesome. So far I have no complaints.” And team member Bakari Jones responded, “It’s been everything I expected it to be, if not more, [if not] better.”
If you are interested in having FEMA Connect or FEMA for Kids come to your school call (555)555-5555.
For more information on FEMA Corps call (800) 942-2677 or go to Nationalservice.gov.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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