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EP41 Gearing Up with the Community Preparedness + Response (CPR) Club
Alexandra Arriaga: Hi and welcome to I AM GPH. My name is Alexandra Arriaga and in today's episode we learn more about the Community Preparedness and Response club, also known as CPR. The mission of CPR is to serve as a platform for students to learn about emerging topics in disaster preparedness and response, advanced or professional interest in the field and gain specific emergency response and management skills. Our guests today are the co-presidents and co founders of CPR, Ramon Alvarez and Sofia Rivera as well as partnerships chair and founding member and Angeline Pierre. If you want to learn more about this awesome club and how to join, keep listening. Hi guys, how are you doing today?
Angeline Pierre: Good.
Sofia Rivera: Good.
Ramon Alvarez: Good. Thank you for having us.
Alexandra Arriaga: Of course. So this morning I'm here with Ramon, Angelin, and Sofia can you please tell us a little bit more about yourselves?
Ramon Alvarez: Sure thing. I'll start off. I'm Ramon Alvarez. I'm a second year MPH candidate concentrating in public health policy and management. I am the cofounder and co-president of the Community Preparedness and Response club.
Angeline Pierre: Hi guys. I'm Angeline Pierre. I am a second year MPH student here at NYU. I am concentrating in global health and I am the partnership chair of CPR.
Sofia Rivera: Hi guys, this is Sofia. I'm also a second year in the MPH program and I'm getting my degree in community health science and practice. I also am the cofounder and a co-president of the CPR club.
Alexandra Arriaga: Amazing. Thank you guys. So what is the mission behind the Community Preparedness and Response club and what type of activities do you guys do?
Ramon Alvarez: Sure, I can start off with that. So the mission of CPR is to serve as a platform for students to learn about emerging topics in disaster preparedness and response, advanced their professional and career interest in the field and gain specific emergency response and management skills. As such, throughout the semesters we are hosting training events such as CPR training, mental health training, stop the bleed trainings. In addition to advance their professional and career interests of our members we like to host panels where we invite very distinguished guests to talk about their work in the field of emergency management. We collaborate with a lot of clubs here at NYU College of Global Public Health to host a lot of these events and just kind of spread our mission of emergency preparedness throughout all concentrations.
Sofia Rivera: Hi guys, this is Sofia. Actually jumping off of what Ramon said, the great thing about the panel aspect and actually doing stuff that's beyond just getting training, is that you actually get to speak with other people who are incredibly interested in the topic of emergency preparedness. So it's actually a really good networking opportunity. You get to speak to professionals who are actually in the field. So it gives you a nice long term look at, oh, what can I do after I graduate if I want to go into this specific field.
Alexandra Arriaga: That's very important actually. So quick question. Usually when we read CPR we then go cardiopulmonary resuscitation, right? But guys, now when you hear that in the NYU context, please know that it's actually this club, it's the community preparedness and response club. But you actually do host CPR training, right?
Sofia Rivera: We're actually trying to get CPR training. We were going to do it for this semester, but we had a partnership that unfortunately fell through, but we're looking for other alternatives to it. So for next semester we're hoping to have that.
Alexandra Arriaga: Okay. Yeah, please keep us posted. And did you guys know, this is super random, but I saw that there's actually a playlist on Spotify for CPR. Did you know that?
Sofia Rivera: Really, it's interesting.
Ramon Alvarez: I did know that, yeah. They're usually songs that go around a certain beats per minute to help by standards keep the right rhythm of CPR. So yeah, it's really a fun touch.
Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, there's the Spotify playlist. Then they have songs like Staying Alive and things like that. But there's so many songs that you wouldn't think about that would help you keep rhythm when you're giving CPR. So kind of crazy.
Angeline Pierre: This is Angeline and I also want to mention that we do also hold mental health trainings. So we actually have one that went on this semester and we just try to give our members tools that they can use to actually be useful in case of an emergency situation.
Alexandra Arriaga: Also very important. And how do you guys get started? How did the club begin?
Sofia Rivera: Okay. Hi guys, this is Sofia again. We actually went on a J-term that was offered by the MPH program. So I think the specific title is slipping my mind right now. But it happens to do with emergency preparedness, emergency management. So we all went on, oh, public health emergency preparedness and response is actually it. Thank you Angie, my brain is incredibly scattered.
Angeline Pierre: No worries.
Sofia Rivera: Yeah, we actually all got the chance to go to Israel for about three weeks and we all really loved the content of it. So after that we were like, "Hey, let's carry it on for a club throughout this semester." So we actually got started for the fall. So we're very new.
Alexandra Arriaga: No, what a great idea. I'm so glad that you guys started it. And so Angeline, can you tell us a little bit more about your internship at the federal Emergency Management Agency? How do you get the internship and what were you working on?
Angeline Pierre: Of course. So I learned about the internship through Dr. Abramson, who was our, not supervisor, our advisor for the club. And I applied and I got in, thank God. So currently I am the THIRA, SBR intern, which stands for threat and hazard identification and risk assessment hence called the preparedness guide. And what I do is basically assess, I help States. So currently I'm helping the U.S. Virgin Island complete their THIRA. The THIRA is a process that territories use to evaluate how prepared they are for a disaster. So for example, it's like if a disaster for earthquake was to happen, how many people could they possibly shelter or how many functional need people can they shelter? So my job right now is to capture the issues, the methodology issues that stays in territories, I haven't completed this process.
Alexandra Arriaga: And a quick parenthesis before you finish answering all the questions I raise, when you say disasters, can you give me a little more context about what disasters you're talking about?
Angeline Pierre: So we're talking about manmade and natural disasters. So it can be anywhere from like cybersecurity attack, earthquake, a pandemic, so disasters along that line.
Alexandra Arriaga: Oh wow. Okay.
Angeline Pierre: So currently I'm writing a report that's capturing all the methodology issues that territories, I haven't completed this process. So this process is made so that territories can self evaluate and see how prepared they affect disasters. Territories can apply for federal grants to help them with their car capabilities. So it's pretty cool just to kind of see how federal government, the state and the local government work together to prepare for disasters.
Alexandra Arriaga: Amazing. And what would you say was your favorite part of this experience?
Angeline Pierre: The workshops. So you know all the stakeholders together in a room trying to come up with numbers, trying to come up with scenarios that they can use to complete this process. It's a lot of work and I don't think people understand how hard it is, but it's necessary work that everyone has to do. Every level of government has to do in order to prepare for disaster to help their citizens get ready too.
Alexandra Arriaga: And is it expensive to prepare for disasters like this?
Angeline Pierre: I would say yes, but it forces all levels of government to get ready for disaster. So this is a conversation that is imperative and we have to have this conversation. So yes.
Alexandra Arriaga: And what would you say was the biggest challenge?
Angeline Pierre: The biggest challenge is, in my opinion, is getting the stakeholders to understand that this is not a process that's going to be used to evaluate how much money you get in grants. But it's a process that's useful so that they can understand how ready they are and which areas they need to work in or better improve to get ready for disaster.
Alexandra Arriaga: Great. So Sofia, you are also doing an internship with the federal Emergency Management Agency?
Sofia Rivera: Yes I am.
Alexandra Arriaga: Is it related to the same thing that Angeline is doing or?
Sofia Rivera: So actually Angie and I are in the same department. So we're in the preparedness department in region two, which encompasses New York, New Jersey, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. So we actually work in the same department but on completely different projects. So for instance, I'm trying to build up a better preparedness plan for the homeless population in New York City. So that requires me to go out and talk to people that are not only a part of FEMA but also on the state and local level. So one interesting part of that is like who comes to the table? So who is a stakeholder? And for the listeners that don't know who stakeholders are, they're incredibly important and they actually have a certain amount of say in the actual program. So when you go to NYC OEM, so that's New York City Office of Emergency Management. They also have to have plans that line up with FEMA. Because if there's an emergency and you need to help people, you can't all use the same bus company, you can't have the same amount of stuff to help people. So you need to actually know where your resources are. So with my project, I'm bringing people to the table and actually creating a workshop that they can use for the homeless population.
Alexandra Arriaga: Oh, wow.
Sofia Rivera: Yeah, it's actually really incredible and I feel like I'm actually making a really big difference at this level, which is really cool.
Alexandra Arriaga: Of course you are, that's great.
Sofia Rivera: Fingers crossed.
Alexandra Arriaga: And switching gears a little bit, among the general public, would you say that there are any preparedness myths or misunderstandings that you can help us clarify?
Ramon Alvarez: Yeah, this is Ramon. I'd like to, I guess point three really common ones and kind of just clarify them out. So the first of which most people think that good preparedness is too expensive or too complicated to accomplish on an individual level. So I would say knowing how to prepare a lifesaving skill is incredibly valuable. Just as knowing CPR or a mental health first aid, there are literally thousands of subtle and simple economic things you can do to drastically improve your emergency plans. The second is that during an emergency you'll always have access to the internet, which is not true as we've seen in a lot of local emergencies where cell lines are just completely bogged down with the amount of traffic they're going. So what I would say, know your way around the city and have a map handy in your preparedness kit with a predetermined route of the city. So you know where to go in case of emergency and you don't waste your time in this panic state trying to figure that out.
Alexandra Arriaga: Oh my God, that is so important. I am the worst. I depends so much on Google maps.
Ramon Alvarez: Yeah, Google maps, especially like getting around the city and the subway and people get so used to it.
Angeline Pierre: Exactly, we're all in the same boat trust me.
Alexandra Arriaga: Oh my God, I totally didn't think about that. And of course like I'm the type of person, if I have a problem I'll go to YouTube. Like how to, you can't be like how you get out of the building that caught on fire on YouTube.
Sofia Rivera: And it's actually pretty crazy. So this is Sofia. So we actually found that out as a city during 9/11, so when the towers went down, the cell towers actually didn't work. So people weren't able to communicate with each other. So one thing that you have to know also is you can write down a cell phone number on a little piece of paper because sometimes you won't be able to reach someone, where if your phone dies, like there's so many different things that people might not be able to consider during those situations.
Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, I actually hear a lot of people have just preplanned spots where they would meet if something bad happened. They're like, okay we're going to meet at Magnolia Bakery and they'll give us baked goods.
Ramon Alvarez: So just kind of building off of that about cut off communications. Most people assume if there's a natural disaster, all you have to do is call 911 and help will come. So first and foremost, first responders do their very best to assist people during emergencies. However, during large scale disaster, help can be delayed. Emergency services have an overwhelming volume of calls to respond to in a crisis and in difficult situations where there are blocked roads, extreme weather events, that can further delay their response. So during natural disasters, we would say that you should be prepared to take care of your friends and family for at least three days, if not a week. So just having these basic understandings of how to prepare yourself and what to do in an emergency will save a tremendous amount of pain.
Alexandra Arriaga: And I guess that if we really want to dive deeper into that, we can join the club and attend all the trainings. But for now, for the listener, what are very precise things that maybe they can start implementing right now if they want it. To be safer and be more prepared in case of emergency.
Angeline Pierre: So I want to drive, this is Angie. I want to drive home three main points and I'm pretty sure Sofia has something to add afterwards, but ready.gov is an amazing website that our listeners can go to and there's more resources other than what I'm about to share. So the first thing is to sign up for alerts and warnings. So they're really good about it. You can sign up via text message or email, create a go-bag and have a plan, have a family communication plan. But you guys were talking about that. You hit on that earlier. So within, the idea of the go-bag is to have a bag that you can grab and go and leave your house during a disaster. And certain things to include in the go-bag consists of important documents in a waterproof portable container. So like your birth certificate, your prescriptions, your eyeglasses prescription, stuff like that things that you really need, your insurance information. You also want to have a battery operated flashlight and radio because like we said earlier, that we can't rely on electricity and technology. It might not be available. Candles and matches, canned goods and water, a mini first aid kit, extra pair of clothes, because you just never know if you might get stuck in a shelter and you can't go back home to grab stuff, you want to have that in a bag. A dust mask, cash, right? A lot of people don't think about it, but you will need money to buy stuff. A spare charger for your phone or computer, whatever the case may be if you have it, if it's available for use. A whistle, you might be stuck somewhere and you need to, you need help and that's a way to attract and washcloth just to kind of keep your sanitation going. And another thing that on the website they recommend that you have one gallon of water in the house per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation.
Ramon Alvarez: So that sounds pretty overwhelming.
Alexandra Arriaga: It does.
Ramon Alvarez: A lot of people will say that's a little bit too much planning, but good thing there's the internet and you can go online to a various amount of websites and just buy pre made, go-bags.
Angeline Pierre: Exactly, or you could attend events. So city console's men's or women, they tend to have events. Like I got a free go-bag at an event that was pre made and it had all the cool stuff in it that I'm listing, yes. So you can go on ready.gov and they have an event calendar where you can learn more about events that are taking place in your neighborhood. So I'm going to touch briefly on the family communication plan. So like we were saying earlier, communication networks for example, mobile phones and computers may not be reliable during a disaster. So it's good to plan in advance and to ensure that everyone in your household knows how to reach one another and where to meet up during the disaster.
So a good thing to do is to write all the important contact information on a card and keep it in your wallet. So just in case you need to make a phone call, you can use landline. And also if you have children, you want to keep a copy of that in their backpack. So in case of an emergency, their teachers will know what to do, who to call, who to reach to help them.
Alexandra Arriaga: And going back to that meeting spot, what would you guys consider a good meeting spot in case of an emergency?
Angeline Pierre: Something that's common to everyone. Something that everyone can get, have access to easy, like if it's your favorite restaurant or is it like an intersection. And I would recommend having more than one meetup spot as well. You just never know.
Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah. That makes sense.
Sofia Rivera: And this is actually, this is Sofia. I remember that our meetup spot was my grandmother's house, which seems very basic, but it's pretty incredible that when something does happen, everyone shows up in the same exact area. So it's actually really helpful just to have that one anchor location. So even like family that's in the area, or just like Angie was saying, a common restaurant, that's anything, it doesn't have to be super difficult to access I guess. So, yeah.
Ramon Alvarez: So I'm from out of state and I have a plan with my family to just kind of meet in the middle of the country if anything were to ever really happen and I need to evacuate the city. So even if you're not originally from the city or it's a far drive to get to your a safe location, your predetermined location, it's just always great to know that's there and that's what the default plan is.
Sofia Rivera: Also we definitely understand that this sounds very doomsday. Please don't think we're a bunch of like mole people. So basically as a, even just starting from the very basics, like you were asking before, if you just have 20 minutes in your day to sit down and be like, okay, what's in my house? Do we have water for a couple of days? And then if you go through the list and if you check the internet, you'll actually get a lot of resources that are out there. So just as a basic starter, the Internet's your best friend and taking 20 minutes just to make a list of what's in your house is really great.
Alexandra Arriaga: Guys, I don't think you sound pessimistic. I think you sound very smart because I am foreign and if Hollywood has taught me anything is that all big disasters start in New York.
Ramon Alvarez: Exactly.
Alexandra Arriaga: And we're in Manhattan, so we have to be careful. It definitely sounds like you guys are all very dedicated to this topic and I definitely appreciate what the club is aiming to provide. I think it's very valuable and potentially life saving to the entire community. And I would like to know what drives you guys just to do all this great work.
Ramon Alvarez: Yeah, so this is Ramon. What drives me is just knowing that I can be of help to my friends, my family, or my community in case anything were to happen. People in public health, professionals in public health are very much the type of person who would want to help out in these very difficult situations because they have the education that most others don't have. So it's part of your personal responsibility as a public health professional to be ready to help out.
Angeline Pierre: This is Angie. So for me it's more on a personal level. I actually lost some family members during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. And I believe that if they were prepared or if they had some sense of what to do during the earthquake, they probably would still be here. So moving forward, I would like to help everyone or most people that I can get ready and understand how to prepare for disasters because they're just, they're going to happen and there's nothing we can do about them.
Sofia Rivera: And this is Sofia and just like Angie and Ramon, it kind of just hits home close to home. So I think if you have the tools to help people, it can have a really good ripple effect. So if you can teach your mom or your dad or your cousin to help other people, it creates really good hubs. So I think that honestly, like natural disasters and all this kind of stuff, we see it every day. So we see it in the media and how there are all these mass shootings. There's so many different things going on in the world and being prepared for that can make all the difference in someone's life. Even if you think of yourself as, oh, I'll be prepared for this. You can help someone else. And I think that's the entire goal of public health.
Alexandra Arriaga: And if anyone listening wants to join this wonderful club and wants to just learn more about preparedness and be a part of CPR, how can they get in touch with you guys?
Ramon Alvarez: So definitely look us up on NYU Engage. We are the Community Preparedness and Response club. Again, NYU Engage is a great spot. We'll have our events, a lot of updated information on what we're going to be providing throughout the semester. Our Instagram tag is CPR_GPH.
Alexandra Arriaga: Cool. Thank you so much guys. It was a pleasure having you here and I really hope to see more of the club in the future.
Ramon Alvarez: Thank you.
Angeline Pierre: Thank you for having us.
Sofia Rivera: Thank you for having us.