By Kevin Jacinto, MHA, NACCHO Program Analyst
As we approach the one-year mark of the San Bernardino mass shooting of December 2015, we are reminded of the necessity for health security, which is dependent on a resilient community. Individuals and communities that are knowledgeable and capable on how to prepare and respond in an emergency are able to withstand and recover from adverse health incidents, which is at the core of a resilient nation.Such efforts are often supported by local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Units.
Created through a cooperative agreement with the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the NACCHO Medical Reserve Challenge Award is a competitive award created to highlight efforts towards building community resiliency among other preparedness factors.
The initiative aims to focus innovation towards areas that are aligned with national health initiatives and are significant at the local level. The Challenge demonstrates the Medical Reserve Corps’ capability to enhance and support the resilience of local communities through these initiatives. The proposed projects align with one of three public health focus areas: Community Resiliency, Partners for Empowered Communities, and Strengthen Community Public Health.
The San Bernardino MRC was chosen to receive one of the 167 Challenge Awards awarded in 2016. In alignment with the building and sustaining community resiliency, the San Bernardino MRC exemplified the nature and purpose of the awards by outlining five goals to help their community recover from their tragedy and build resiliency. Their project “Active Shooter Awareness, Prevention, Response, & Recovery Training” set out to help the community through the following goals:
- Learn specific actions they could take to prevent and prepare potential active shooter incidents,
- Assist and respond to law enforcement and first responders,
- Recognize potential violent indicators in individuals,
- Manage consequences of an active shooter incident, and
- Understanding mental health issues that may contribute to these acts or impact the victims and community.
During the project the San Bernardino MRC recognized that their community members were on high alert as they approached the one-year mark of the mass shooting last year. Concerned with scenarios such as an active shooter in the area or on site, large companies began employee training on how to assess the severity of situations, and train staff on how to correctly and decisively react in a safe manner. However, smaller companies and nonprofits may not have the resources to develop or provide the appropriate training and tools. The San Bernardino MRC recognized the necessity of providing the community with the information, training, and resources that are necessary in the event of a future mass shooting. The hope was to not only develop tangible plans and preparations to respond, but to also build community resiliency and lessen pre-existing fears of another attack.
The project included a seminar style workshop and a hands-on training conducted by law enforcement. Both of these training environments gave the community and law enforcement a unique opportunity to get to know each other and provided an outlet to help with the healing process. Coping strategies were also addressed during the training which provided attendees with information on how to recover from the aftermath of an attack. The event closed with mental health speakers from the San Bernardino County Mental Health Agency and addressed the sometimes overlooked mental health issues caused by such traumatic incidents.
The San Bernardino MRC was overwhelmed with community involvement, and the level of interest in the Active Shooter training and awareness event with over 300 attendees at both the seminar, and the “Run, Hide, Fight” training day. The event was open to surrounding MRC units, educators, churches, and non-profits and proved to be extremely valuable for the community. One attendee stated:
“I wanted to say thank you to your organization for giving me (and the others who attended) the opportunity to attend the seminar last week. It was so well organized, and the sessions helped me understand a little more about how to be prepared. I have shared the information with my colleagues, and encouraged them to attend the seminar when it is offered next time”.
NACCHO is currently accepting applications for the 2017 MRC Challenge Awards through December 9, 2016. To learn more, please download the official Request for Applications, and visit the NACCHO MRC webpage. Interested applicants are also encouraged to read our recent blog post highlighting this year’s award topics, eligibility, grant award amount and more.