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Disaster Preparedness in San Francisco
BLUE RIBBON AWARD WINNER
Disaster Preparedness for Vulnerable Populations (DPVP) was a multi-year action–research partnership combining a San Francisco State University (SFSU) service-learning outreach program with a pre- and post telephone survey of local senior citizens receiving home care from In-Home Supportive Services Public Agency (IHSS). The project was undertaken to better prepare this vulnerable population for the inevitability of an earthquake.
The key partner was IHSS, which employs and assigns home care providers to eligible individuals. Its staff met regularly with SFSU faculty to design the survey questionnaire. These meetings were complemented by focus group interviews of service providers to identify their challenges in preparing the seniors.
In year one, a random sample of the target group was surveyed by telephone. Subsequently, through a service-learning program, nursing students visited the seniors throughout San Francisco and introduced them to the Vial of Life, a program for recording essential personal data to help first responders to act quickly in an emergency.
In year two, a follow-up survey was conducted with the outreach group to measure the impact of the program. The study found significant gains in preparedness levels on multiple scales. The project serves as a model that combines a pedagogical approach to providing service and a research effort to measure impact and discover additional qualities concerning vulnerability and outreach. Students gained a deeper understanding of the needs and assets of local communities. Faculty were provided an opportunity for professional growth, and community partners benefited in improved disaster preparedness.
Gerald Eisman, Institute for Civic and Community Engagement
San Francisco State University
Donna Calame, San Francisco In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority
Harvey (Skip) Davis & Lynette Landry, San Francisco State University
Key words: disaster preparedness, seniors/elders, service learning + CBR