DC Emergency Preparedness Forums

DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency
Disaster Recovery
Washington, DC
September 2011

In order to raise awareness and engage key District of Columbia communities on emergency preparedness, AmericaSpeaks and the Louis Berger Group teamed up with the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA)  to convene four forums on preparedness. Throughout September–the month nationally designated as Preparedness Month–District of Columbia residents and workers joined representatives from HSEMA to learn how they can be better prepared in emergency scenarios.

In total, four interrelated communities participated in the forums: service providers for persons with access and functional needs, representatives from faith-based organizations and congregations, members of the business community, and youth from Anacostia High School. The AmericaSpeaks project team designed customized programs, keypad polling questions, and discussion topics for each forum in order to reflect the specific nuances of the four participant groups.

At each of the four forums, participants heard from HSEMA Director Millicent D. West, discussed the main issues their organizations may encounter in emergencies, learned about organizational preparedness and creating Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans, and committed to taking specific steps to become better prepared for emergencies. At the youth forum, representatives from Anacostia High School toured the DC Unified Communications Center, where 311 and 911 calls are processed, and the Emergency Command Center, where top officials make essential decisions during emergencies.

By the end of the month, the AmericaSpeaks-Louis Berger-HSEMA team had engaged over 280 DC residents and workers on emergency preparedness, effectively creating an entree for the agency to pursue further civic engagement and education on preparedness in the District of Columbia.


Thanks to the September Preparedness Forums, the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency gained valuable experience engaging the public, forged constructive relationships with members of key DC communities, and received valuable feedback from DC workers and residents on how to best educate and support members of the public in emergency preparedness. Participants in the forums gained the tools and resources necessary to become prepared to support their clients, organizations, congregations, and communities in emergency scenarios.