The Hurricane Hub of Puerto Rico announced it is prepared to offer training and technical assistance for preparedness, response and recovery in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean during the hurricane season that runs through November.
The entity, which falls under the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust — an organization created by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust — will provide training and technical assistance to the Departments of Health, Emergency Management and Community Organizations in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
“Earlier this year, we circulated a survey among first responders in case of disasters to first identify the training and technical assistance needs of the Public health workforce for preparation, response and recovery,” said José F. Rodríguez-Orengo, acting executive director of the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust.
“The objective is to improve environmental and occupational health recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricanes Irma and María by developing capacities related to disaster response,” he said.
“Today, we already have a large group that makes up the Hurricane Hub of Puerto Rico which is one of the five regional technical assistance centers for the Hurricane Response Center initiative led by the National Network of Public Health Institutes,” Rodríguez-Orengo said.
The National Network of Public Health Institutes has centers in Florida, Atlanta, Louisiana, Texas and now in Puerto Rico.
Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hurricane Hub will serve as the coordinating body within each jurisdiction, working with a variety of state and regional partners to direct the creation activities capacity of the public health workforce in disaster surveillance, the environment and occupational health needs.
Training and resources developed through this initiative will also help public health institutes, emergency management, government entities and other organizations to develop workforce capacity and institutional knowledge that improves disaster-related recovery in the future. Some of its services include:
- Fulfilling technical assistance requests;
- Providing resources and educational materials;
- Offering technical training for first responders in public, environmental and occupational health;
- Community assessment in response to emergencies;
- Facilitating connections with organizations and resources;
- Addressing deaths, injuries and illnesses after a disaster;
- Shelter management; and,
- Improving public health information capacity.
Among the workshops that Hurricane Hub offers, there are specializations in: Rapid needs assessment; Disaster epidemiology; Education and communication (Spanish and English); Estimation of mortality and surveillance; and Water safety and vulnerability index.
Leslie Maas-Cortés, director of the Hurricane Hub Puerto Rico said “we will take advantage of our existing partnerships, management systems, training and surveillance platforms to rapidly and effectively expand the development of the workforce capacity with minimal effort and improve the opportunity of long-term sustainability.”
“We’re bringing our partners together to develop a comprehensive approach to increase resilience and disaster preparedness,” she said. “Training will be created, evaluated and connected to the Hurricane Hub website to train our public health workforce and others.”
In addition, a bank of graduate students and community health promoters will be trained at the Center to facilitate training at the local level with a model of “training the trainer” with experts from HUB Coalition partners, she said.
All hurricane response management entities are urged to register at the entity’s website, where they can also submit requests for technical assistance and training.
The general public may also access the site to download a “Hurricane Season Preparation Guide” and request discussions by email, telephone inquiries, facilitate connections with individuals, organizations or resources by facilitating presentations to individuals, organizations or other existing resources.