EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — June 14, 2006

Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)
Ready Business Mentoring Initiative

Abigail S. Borron
Communication Specialist
Extension Disaster Education Network

T. David Filson
Emergency Preparedness and Response Coordinator
Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension

Avagene Moore
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! We are pleased you could join us today! Today's topic is the "Extension Disaster Education Network - Ready Business Mentoring Initiative."

It is my pleasure to introduce our guest speakers. First up today is Abigail S. Borron, Communication Specialist for EDEN. Abigail is with the Department of Agricultural Communication at Purdue University in Indiana. Her responsibilities include Web site and information delivery support, promoting EDEN to state and federal agencies, and public affairs management.

Our second speaker is T. David Filson; David will discuss the EDEN/DHS Ready Business course. As Emergency Preparedness and Response Coordinator for the Penn State Cooperative Extension, Dave coordinates communication and interaction among Extension administration, faculty, field-based educators and other agencies.

If you have not read the background page, please do so after our session today to learn more about both of our speaker and to check out the related Web site references.

Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum, Abigail and Dave. We will hear from Abigail first -- Abigail, I now turn the floor to you for your formal remarks.


Abigail Borron: Thank you Avagene. Thank you for your time today in this forum. We appreciate the opportunity to share with you some of the work that is being done throughout the Cooperative Extension System in regard to disaster education and emergency management.

First of all, let me begin by providing some background information on EDEN. Then, following the backgrounder, we will focus on the EDEN/DHS course Ready Business. The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) is a collaborative, multi-state effort by Land Grant institutions across the country to share educational resources to reduce the impact of natural and man-made disasters.

It was on 9/11 that EDEN showed its true capacity. Within a matter of minutes of the planes striking the Twin Towers, Extension specialists recognized that they could provide daycare centers information for parents when talking to their children about terrorism. An Extension specialist in child development and family studies at Purdue University had the needed fact sheets. Extension and EDEN distributed this information across the country. By the end of the day, thousands of daycare centers were handing this information out to their parents.

During last year’s hurricanes, Extension was instantly active. A multitude of county Extension offices were out of commission due to destroyed facilities and/or mandatory evacuation. Functioning offices to the north began providing the affected areas with educational resources they needed to aid in response and recovery. In addition, states that were taking in refugees of the affected states were handing them packets of information specific to their home state, that were intended to help them as they begin the recovery process and return home.

Today, there are 49 states and 3 U.S. territories that have member institutions. Total, over 150 Extension professionals across the nation are involved in EDEN. Of those, 56 serve as the point of contact for their institution. EDEN has a Web site (www.EDEN.lsu.edu). With EDEN delegates contributing, it houses:

  • Resources covering various disaster topics that include natural, man-made, and terrorist-related information on mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
  • Expert contacts throughout the Extension System
  • A portal to Land Grant Universities nationwide, along with access to hundreds of disaster resources.

But, more than a Web site, as a national network, we are:

  • Educators and specialists at state land grants across the country.
  • Experts in 19 different areas of specialization.
  • Liaisons and collaborators who facilitate to get things done.
  • Consultants who find the right information for the need.

We also have developed partnerships with DHS, FEMA, VOAD, State Departments of Agriculture, State Departments of Health, and others.

Extension is about education. Therefore, EDEN is a provider of online train-the-trainer curriculums. In other words, they are designed to teach educators/agents on pertinent topics and equip them with the tools needed to teach the intended audience.

Currently, we have four available courses:

  1. Plant Biosecurity Management Course (covering plants and crops)
  2. OnGuard: Protecting America’s Food System
  3. Ready Business
  4. Pandemic Preparedness for Businesses

An additional one – USDA’s Roles in the National Response Plan – is in the process of being rolled out; and then, come next summer, Animal Biosecurity Management Course will be launched. All courses are developed by EDEN member institutions who have been awarded a sub-grant from available EDEN funds.

Now, David Filson, who is the Emergency Preparedness & Response Coordinator at Penn State University and also serves as the EDEN point of contact for Penn State, will discuss the Ready Business course that was developed in partnership with DHS.

Dave Filson: Thank you; and, let me echo what Abigail said earlier: It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to present to you today. This course is an extension of Homeland Security’s successful Ready Campaign that encourages individuals to prepare for emergencies.

In October 2005, a survey by The Advertising Council found that 92 percent of businesses say it is very or somewhat important to take steps to prepare for an emergency. However, only 39 percent said they actually had a plan in place.

Small to medium-sized businesses are often most susceptible to the long-term affects of an emergency. They are a vital part of the U.S. economy, making up 99 percent of all employees, 75 percent of all net new jobs, and 97 percent of all U.S. exporters.

The Ready Business Course focuses on three steps to business preparedness: (1) PLAN to stay in business; (2) TALK to your people; and (3) PROTECT your investment.

  1. PLAN: involves knowing the potential emergencies; assessing how your company functions; and protecting your employees.
  2. TALK: involves conducting drills and exercises; encouraging employees to become prepared as an individual and a family; and explain a communication plan in the event of an emergency.
  3. PROTECT: involves understanding your insurance coverage; preparing for utility outages and disruptions; and protecting your data and IT systems.

This course also covers preparedness steps based on cost -- no cost, under $500, and over $500 --and details how to appropriately develop an emergency supply kit, and an emergency plan (using helpful forms, checklists and other paperwork provided by the course).

Disaster planning for businesses also focuses on IT considerations: computer hardware inventory, cyber security, and records back-up as well as insurance coverage, such as recording all policy numbers, knowing the deductible, knowing the policy limits, frequently reviewing what is covered, and determining if additional insurance is required to keep a business open in the event of an emergency.

Ready Business was officially launched in May of this year by the Department of Homeland Security. The course was developed to support use of the DHS Ready Business Mentoring Guide. To date, the course is being adapted at a national youth conference this summer in which 4-H youth will be given trained to intern with businesses to help them write preparedness plans. As a result of the conference, there will be a Web site for youth who couldn’t attend the conference to get training in the future.

To give a couple of examples, we know this course currently is being used in Iowa with local Chambers of Commerce. In addition, Eric Evans, EDEN delegate and Missouri University Extension emergency management specialist, is making this course available statewide through the local county Extension offices. Coupled with the EDEN Pandemic Preparedness for Businesses course, we think this course could be a good one-day, train-the-trainer session for emergency managers, Extension educators and/or volunteers.

To learn more about the Ready Business course, the Pandemic Preparedness for Businesses course and other EDEN courses, visit the EDEN Web site at www.EDEN.lsu.edu .

Abigail and I have covered the main points we wanted to touch on today. At this point, we will be happy to entertain any questions you may have for us.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Abigail and Dave. We will now turn to questions from our audience.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Elizabeth Leef: I would like to know if people with disabilities have been addressed and how.

Abigail Borron: The focus has not been on disabilities yet, but that is in our plans for the future. It does mention in course though to consider these individuals, and for the team to address this as they develop the plan.

Rob Schwartz: Is participation limited to land grant institutions?

Dave Filson: EDEN is limited to land grant institutions, but the business ready material can be delivered by a variety of sources. We would hope that the Cooperative Extension system would be the preferred educator.

Elizabeth Leef: When looking at businesses, I'm concerned with home health care agencies and their consumers. Has this been addressed?

Dave Filson: Good Question. The training is not specific to a particular business sector. Any business can use the materials to adapt specifically to their operation, including health care and their agencies. Health care is essential, and in the event of a major disruption of services it becomes critical to have a plan to ensure business continuity. This material will help health care providers, and any other business develop a plan to be ready.

Stephanie Murdock: What is a land grant institution?

Abigail Borron: Every state has at least one institution identified as a Land Grant institution (here in Indiana, it is Purdue University). The purpose of the institution is to be a portal of research-based information to the communities. In other words, resources are public domain; and are delivered at the local level through county Extension offices. These are what the Cooperative Extension System is derived from.

Amy Sebring: Dave, do you touch on other mitigation strategies in your course, to potentially reduce impacts of disasters?

Dave Filson: Yes, anything we can do to reduce the impact is good, but we need to also encourage business to be prepared for a variety of scenarios.

Stephanie Murdock: How is your model delivered to the interested businesses? What is the cost? Is it an ongoing process of preparedness?

Dave Filson: There is no cost for accessing the materials. Some states may decide to enhance the material by including professionals, such as an account, or insurance broker, etc., and there may be a cost for that. It is delivered by the Cooperative Extension professionals that Abigail described in her opening remarks.

Avagene Moore: Abigail, how closely do local / county Extension offices work with local emergency managers? Or State EMA with State Extension Offices? I don't hear much about this type of collaboration.

Abigail Borron: Well, it is going to be different in every state. In some states, like here in Indiana, our Purdue Extension offices are developing stronger and stronger relationships with county EMAs based on the county needs and the development or revision of county Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans. At the state level, it will vary as well.

Dave Filson: I might add that each county EMA has a local committee of emergency services. Cooperative Extension in the county is usually included on that committee.

Elizabeth Leef: Is material on the web in accessible format for all to use.

Abigail Borron: Yes, for this course and others, most materials are in PowerPoint or PDF formats.

Avagene Moore: Dave, is there some type of promotion or publicity campaign going on to get businesses involved in the Ready Business effort?

Dave Filson: Yes. Each EDEN delegate in each state has been provided with the material describing the course, and they are encouraged to make it available through a variety of partners such as Chambers of Commerce, Industrial Development Corporations, business groups.

Stephanie Murdock: Do you provide ongoing support for the groups that decide to use the Ready Business Model; is there a help line, etc?

Dave Filson: There is no follow up support once a business has developed the plan. However, to be effective, the plan can describe what needs to be done, and if follow up is needed, the plan can identify what additional work should be done.

Amy Sebring: Dave, do you encourage folks to find their local EM program as a further resource and to make sure their planning assumptions are valid?

Dave Filson: If by local EM program you mean the local Emergency Management office, then yes, they and other partners are critical to being prepared.

Avagene Moore: Abigail, does EDEN work with groups such as the International Association of Emergency Managers to further your goals? Also NEMA, State Directors?

Abigail Borron: We are always seeking out new working partnerships. At this time, we are talking to these groups but have not had an opportunity to develop a project-oriented relationship. But once again, that will vary in each state depending on needs and opportunities.

Amy Sebring: Dave or Abigail, are you getting feedback from the business community on this educational effort yet? I would think your ‘cost-based preparedness steps’ is an especially good approach.

Dave Filson: We are getting a lot of interest. Many businesses think that good advice is too costly for their budget, but for those that go through the planning exercise, they realize that it is business foolish not to have a plan.

Steve Skowronski: Can you identify which federal agencies provide funding support to EDEN?

Abigail Borron: Yes. Currently, we receive funding from USDA-CSREES (Cooperative State, Research, Education and Extension System).

Dave Filson: And special project support from DHS.

Amy Sebring: Dave do you incorporate NFPA 1600 into your training materials, which is a standard for both business and public emergency management programs that is gaining increasing acceptance?

Dave Filson: No. Since there will be a variety of federal, state, and local regulations that may have to be addressed, we do not include then all into the training. We DO encourage businesses to become familiar with any and all regulations that may affect them.

Steve Skowronski: Did HHS or CDC help with the Pandemic Preparedness course?

Abigail Borron: No. This was taken as an initiative of EDEN to provide. However, it is not technically a pandemic preparedness course. It is a business ready course that includes pandemic planning. We are talking right now with CDC to develop a pandemic preparedness course for the faith-based community.

Avagene Moore: A comment regarding my last question. The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) forms partnerships with groups. I suggest they would be good for EDEN to partner with.


Amy Sebring: Abigail, do you have a mailing list set up that folks could subscribe to or a newsletter to keep up with your activities?

Abigail Borron: Good question. In fact, we've just recently had that inquiry. Currently, we do not have a mailing list for individuals outside of the Extension system, since EDEN is specific to Extension. However, with this recent inquiry, we are now in discussion about how to create an available mailing list. We will be sure to make it available on our Web site if we so choose to do so.


Amy Sebring: Great. I think EDEN is a tremendous resource but a lot needs to be done in the awareness department. Can you address generally that EDEN and the Cooperative Extensions are not just for rural, agricultural states?

Abigail Borron: Absolutely. In EDEN, we represent 19 different areas of specialization. These areas of specialization come out of four program areas that exist in Extension:

  1. Ag and Natural Resources
  2. Family and Consumer Sciences
  3. Economic and Community Development
  4. 4-H and Youth Development

These are available in every state and nearly every county.


Avagene Moore: Thank you, Abigail and Dave. We greatly appreciate your effort and time on our behalf and wish you continued success in your work with the Extension Service and the Ready Business course, a very good program and one that needs to be publicized.

Dave Filson: Thanks for the chance to chat. Sorry for my typing impediment. If you have questions please contact me [email protected] 814.863.6424 or you can contact Abigail.

Abigail Borron: [email protected] 765-494-4390

Avagene Moore: Please stand by a moment while we make some quick announcements. If you are not currently on our mailing list, and would like to get program announcements and notices of transcript availability, please see the Subscribe link on our home page.

We have two new EIIP Partners to announce today -- the first is the Emergency Management Training, Analysis and Simulation Center (EMTASC), www.emtasc.org with Randy Sickmier serving as our Point of Contact. Glad to see EMTASC represented today.

We also welcome Disaster Survival Strategies Co, Ltd. (located in Thailand). Our POC is Dr. David R Garrison, President, of the company.

If you are interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the "Partnership for You" link on the EIIP Virtual Forum homepage at www.emforum.org.

Again, the transcript of the June 14th session will be posted later today and you will be able to access it from our home page. An announcement will also be sent to our Mail Lists when the transcript is available.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We especially appreciate our audience! Before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Abigail and Dave for a fine job. The EIIP Virtual Forum is adjourned!