Beth Appert and Sarah Bates
In early 2012, Yamhill County Public Health (YCPH) partnered with a local community business, Bailey Nurseries, which employs up to 250 during peak season, to train 10 foremen from three sites about the types of disasters that could occur in Yamhill County and how to prepare for them. Since many of these foremen have been employed more than a decade, they are influential leaders at work and in their communities.
Beth Appert, Yamhill County health educator, and Sarah Bates, Yamhill County emergency preparedness coordinator, facilitated the participatory style workshops at the Yamhill headquarters once a month for six months. Partners from the American Red Cross provided bilingual training and resources on how to develop a personal disaster preparedness kit and plan.
Following the personal preparedness session, Alejandro, a longtime foreman, brought in his back-pack kit complete with a stuffed animal to comfort his child and won a hand crank radio for his proactive efforts. The participants also learned about community resources and the need to take care of their own family during a disaster. Additionally, foremen discussed ways to share the information with their crews and in their community. With encouragement, Bailey Nurseries took steps to improve their emergency plans with foremen engaged in identifying procedures that would work for their crew.
The project culminated in a simulated chemical spill exercise in collaboration with Yamhill Communications Agency (YCOM/911) and the Yamhill Fire Department. The group discussed lessons learned and steps for improvement. YCPH and Bailey Nurseries plan to meet once a year for refresher training and to evaluate organizational preparedness. Rosalba Sandoval-Pérez, Bailey Nurseries human resource manager, commented, "I think this helped prove how valuable it is to really know what to do and be prepared, so everyone will continue to be motivated to learn."
This project's main goal was to help strengthen the resiliency among the immigrant, migrant and seasonal farm worker community in order to keep them safe and healthy during an emergency. It was also important to build trust for Public Health, the American Red Cross, YCOM/911 and the local volunteer fire department. In the supportive, casual environment of the workshops questions such as, “Will the 911 operator speak to me in Spanish?’ could be asked and answered. Patti Sauer, YCOM/911 dispatch operations manager, worked closely with YCPH to identify a system to email and text foremen with emergency alerts and to register Bailey Nurseries, which included a map of its property, with YCOM/911. This will support a prompt, effective response to emergencies and as Sauer noted, “This is a great project…you're making a difference.”
In the month following the project, YCPH has continued to build its relationship with Bailey Nurseries at two health outreach events, one for the employees and one for their families. YCPH distributed Spanish language emergency preparedness materials and public health information and conducted screenings. YCPH hopes to continue to build this relationship and to use this experience to reach out to other similar groups in our community.
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