In recognition of National Preparedness Month, the Tompkins County Health Department in Ithaca, NY hosted a Preparedness Resource Fair on September 10 to share preparedness tools and information from a variety of partners with the community.
More than 20 organizations took part including local fire and EMS, the New York National Guard, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the Tompkins County Amateur Radio Association. The fair was set up inside the local mall with vehicles from various organizations also set up outside. A local radio station was also set up to broadcast on site.
Preparedness Coordinator Patricia Mason brought the idea for the fair with her from her previous role in Colorado, “hoping to educate the community of emergency preparedness.” She teamed up with emergency management to start planning the event beginning late last year.
The department hosted the event to help the public “understand that during a big disaster, calling 911 might not be your best course of action,” said Mason. “You may be on your own for at least 72 hours until help comes. You can do simple things. With the help of all these organizations, you can build your preparedness kit in advance.”
The local mall donated space for the fair, seeing it as an opportunity to bring people to the mall. To help promote the event, the department placed paid radio ads, posted to its website, posted flyers in mall kiosks and on food court tables, and promoted in the community including the through local Rotary Club. Community Health workers also helped to promote the fair and were present during it to gather feedback from participants through a very short survey.
In thinking about what makes for a successful event, Mason encourages others to “start small and start planning early. If you come up with an idea, reach out. You can usually find someone to partner with.”
Mason also recommends thinking of fun things that involve the entire family.
“Teaching kids is a huge part of this,” said Mason. “Bringing in the bigger pieces of equipment helps to draw people in—kids love to see it.”