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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 27, 2007) – When disaster strikes, the response of trained professionals can save lives and property. The Institute for Rural Emergency Management at UCM offers assistance to communities with limited resources allowing them to prepare for these disasters.
The IREM was established in 2005 as part of UCM’s Department of Safety Sciences as a response to the needs of rural communities for resources that often are more readily available in urban areas. Now a part of the College of Health and Human Services, the institute draws on the bachelor’s degree program in Crisis and Disaster Management, offering UCM students the opportunity to gain valuable experience with various aspects of public emergency management, community preparedness and business recovery.
Dianna Bryant, associate professor and executive director of the institute, said the institute provides opportunities for students and clients alike and fulfills the university motto of “Education for Service.”
“We have students in the Crisis and Disaster Management program, as well as other degree programs throughout the university, who need hands-on experience, and we also have many smaller communities who do not have the resources to dedicate to the development of crisis and disaster management programs,” Bryant said. “By bringing these students and clients together, the institute is able to provide a valuable community outreach opportunity for both.”
UCM students completed a hazardous materials traffic study for the Lafayette County Emergency Management Agency, providing the supplemental manpower to provide the agency with key information while gaining experience. Students also responded to a request from the Little Guppy Day Care Center in St. Louis to provide emergency procedures and training materials for the staff that allowed the center to develop a strategy assuring the safety of the children. The materials developed for this client are not available statewide through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The institute currently is working on a comprehensive preparedness project for John Knox Village in Lee’s Summit. Additional projects undertaken by the institute include emergency plans for public and private entities, the design and implementation of emergency exercises and drills, the evaluation of emergency preparedness technology capabilities, and assessments of courtroom security issues for judges in rural judicial districts.
“A key benefit for everyone is that our students can draw upon the diverse experience of our faculty – not just the College of Health and Human Services, but across the university curriculum.” Bryant said. She added that the institute would like to expand faculty involvement to include experts in the fields of nursing, social work and social gerontology, just to name a few.
Closer to home, the institute has completed several projects for the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency in Warrensburg. Karen Eagleson, director of the agency, has found the students to be an invaluable resource.
“Most of the county agencies like ours are on limited budgets, but we still need to provide key services to the county,” Eagleson said. “UCM students have been able to do hazard analyses and specific annex updates for me, as well as writing a relocation plan. This is very valuable resource for us, and I have recommended them to several other agency directors over the years.”
“We can provide the resources for those who have the responsibility and the desire to provide services for their constituencies, but don’t have the financial resources,” Bryant said. “We can offer the time, manpower and access to information. But we’re also offering our students what they came to UCM for – valuable experience in the area of crisis and disaster management, gained from firsthand experience.”
The services are available for a negotiable fee through contract with the UCM Office of Sponsored Programs, which supplements the institute’s program budget provided by UCM, Bryant said.
For more information about the Institute for Rural Emergency Management or the bachelor’s degree program in Crisis and Disaster Management, contact Bryant at 660-543-4971 or firstname.lastname@example.org.