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DHS News May 2012 | PDF Icon DHS News May 2012

Preparing for Disaster

What would happen if Southwestern Pennsylvania faced a disaster caused by wide-spread flooding? This was the question that many volunteers, organizations and groups sought to answer during a large-scale disaster drill held by the Red Cross. 

On May 19, the Red Cross opened nine emergency shelters across Southwest Pennsylvania for a simulation to test emergency response to a disaster. The scenario chosen for the exercise was flooding caused by the remnants of a hurricane. Volunteer actors portrayed shelter residents with a variety of real-world issues and needs, such as lost medication, missing family members and limited English proficiency. The DHS Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) was on hand to provide emotional support for the “victims”.

“During a disaster, people are dealing with an enormous amount of stress which can intensify pre-existing stress issues,” said Lucille Underwood, Continuity of Care Specialist in OBH. “This drill gave us hands-on experience and the opportunity to work with volunteers and community agencies to find the best ways to effectively support the emotional needs of disaster victims.”

Learn more about disaster preparedness

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