For the eighth year, the American Red Cross hosted its annual Disaster Preparedness Summit. This year, the summit focused on the topic of bioterrorism and featured various speakers and panel discussions.
Many of those in attendance were hoping to gain something they could take back to work with them. Kin Lee works in business continuity and disaster recovery, and said he is “looking for what I can find out here and apply to my business.”
Latesha Tubbs is an emergency management coordinator and she found a lesson in communicating on a large scale, “how to do a uniform message to the public and how important that is. Even in words you use, like terrorism and how that can spark fear in the public.”
Higher education had a large presence in the day, even aside from the fact that the summit was held on the DePaul University campus. College professors and administrators attended on behalf of their students and institutions.
University of Chicago Medicine’s Brenda Battle welcomes guests.
David Ibrahim works at the University of Illinois at Chicago. According to him, UIC has been engaging more and more with the American Red Cross in the past six months. He believes higher education should be part of emergency planning and response, “we’re center hubs, we have facilities that can help with mass evacuation, we have a lot of resources that we can provide.”
Another professor, Charles Stewart, voiced similar thoughts when speaking about the benefit of these events, “the community as a whole, we all have to be at the table to come up with a plan and a solution.” Stewart is a current professor at Southern Illinois University and a retired First Deputy Fire Commissioner. His students are in public safety and he uses his background to prepare them for what he calls the “what ifs” of emergencies.
Disaster Summit attendees meet.
One of the popular sessions of the day was a panel on bioterrorism preparedness and response planning in Illinois, featuring representatives from different levels of government such as the Illinois Army National Guard and the Chicago Department of Public Health. Ibrahim thought it was great “for them to speak to the response infrastructure through state officials and see how they’re in constant communication.” Meanwhile Tubbs enjoyed the topic, “My favorite was the last presentation, the panel… It brought a lot of attention to bio-watch, a subject that’s not really covered in biomedicine.”
The day’s topic went over well with attendees who applauded the timeliness of the issue. Nurses, professors, and business men found direct applications to their careers from the information at the Disaster Preparedness Summit.
Written By: Eleanor Lyons, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer