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West Central Health District Hosts Faith-Based Disaster Preparedness and Response Conference

September 4, 2013

Originally published on Oct. 22, 2012

A community comes together in many ways to support one another in times of crisis.  

As seen during previous disasters, sometimes official emergency outreach efforts can be delayed due to a wide variety of circumstances. It is during these times the faith community steps up and provides much needed support to the public.

Recognizing the value of the faith community in assisting in a disaster, The Columbus Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) recently hosted a Faith Based Disaster Preparedness and Response Conference for community pastors, congregation leaders, disaster workers and outreach ministry. Conference topics included lessons learned from the EF-5 tornado that struck Tuscaloosa, Ala., in April 2011, presented by Billy Gray of the Tuscaloosa Baptist Association, and a chaplain's point of view of the tornado, presented by Bill McDonald, chaplain for North Star EMS.  

Conference attendees also learned about the roles of the American Red Cross, state and local level emergency management and how their places of worship can partner and assist with disaster recovery efforts.

Ryan Deal, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), discussed the use of social media during a disaster and the importance of the faith community in utilizing these tools to better reach out to the public. The conference was well attended with dozens registered, representing more than 25 organizations and 40 places of worship from both Georgia and Alabama.

"Never before has such a diverse group within our faith-based community come together in garrison to learn what a true partnership can accomplish during disasters," said conference coordinator Darrell Enfinger, who serves as emergency preparedness coordinator for the West Central Health District as well as MMRS.