Team work. Forward thinking. Understanding personalities. These were all phrases that regional disaster staff used when describing what they learned from the disaster course they participated in over the past two days, called Leadership Development Training. This course was designed to teach participants to approach a disaster by developing progressive strategies throughout a relief operation, while not only anticipating what the next move is, but then how to act, while making decisions as a team.
The interesting aspect of this training is how it is presented. It’s often compared to Monopoly, consisting of a large game board and play pieces that represent resources, both human and material. Given a realistic scenario the group was tasked to make decisions on allocating these resources based on what they perceive may happen during a disaster relief operation, often times making judgement calls without all the information. The event they were given spanned over eight days with various situations. The group had to work together to make sure the clients and communities that were affected from the disaster, were appropriately helped through response and into recovery, while at the same time following a budget.
The disaster department is comprised of unique staff. They range from a few months in their role to over 25 years of experience. They bring different educational backgrounds, career paths, perspectives and ideas from all over the region from Philadelphia to Scranton and beyond. Each would describe themselves differently in how they learn, how they communicate, or how they interact with others. However, despite the diversity, over the two days one thing was evident- they were a team. They worked seamlessly together, talking through decisions and possible outcomes while role playing in activities that were outside their comfort. In the end, successfully played, all were winners.
More often than not, the job of any disaster staff is strenuous and consuming. But every day they work together towards the same mission. Through their teamwork, they will be successful. They can tackle the impossible when they work together. Judge Renee Hughes, the Regional CEO of the Eastern PA Region, often quotes the great athlete, Muhammad Ali, “…Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” As a team, they can get through anything. They are continuing to learn, train and better prepare for when the time comes. They are the Eastern Pennsylvania Region, Disaster Staff.