FEMA disaster readiness class offered at CBC

Tri-Citians can hone their disaster preparedness in a free program that starts in Pasco next month.

Columbia Basin College will participate in the national Community College Citizen Preparedness Program -- or 3CP2. The college will be the only one in Eastern Washington to offer the training, which was designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The program is a collaboration of FEMA and the nation's community colleges, which train about 80 percent of emergency responders and 60 percent of health care professionals, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The program trains people to recognize, prepare for and cope with disasters caused by factors ranging from severe weather to terrorism, said Brady Brooks, a CBC executive assistant involved in 3CP2.

Studies prepared in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showed that the vast majority of Americans are not prepared for a natural disaster or a pandemic, according to FEMA.

The 3CP2 hopes to change that -- mainly by training the trainers.

The target audiences for the training are community college students, faculty, employees and their families, Brooks said.

The program also hopes to train representatives from local businesses and community organizations, she said.

But that doesn't mean individuals who don't work for any of these organizations or agencies can't get trained.

"We won't turn anybody away," Brooks said.

CBC's goal is to ultimately reach 300,000 people. That doesn't mean they all walk through CBC's doors, but the hope is that those trained at the college will go back to their schools, agencies and businesses, and train others.

"Most folks expect that responders and the government will come to help them in a disaster," Brooks said. "But emergency responders (make up) only 1 percent of the population. We all have to be first responders."

The training is set up in three modules -- recognizing, preparing for and recovering from disasters.

The dates and times for the training aren't set yet, but the first session is expected to begin in September, Brooks said.

Those interested in attending the two-hour training can call college relations at 547-0511, ext. 2235, 2324 or 2916.