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Community Disaster Preparedness Training: Psychological Impact on Participants
Western Psychological Association, Annual Conference (2011)
  • M. S. Davis, Department of Psychology, Dominican University of California
  • J. Rubinstein
  • S. Lemp

Natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods are a constant source of danger for at-risk populations. To  mitigate the impact that such events may have in the future, educating and organizing communities about disaster preparedness is essential, both in terms of providing knowledge and skills, as well as in helping to eliminate some of the psychological factors that keep people from taking precautions. The present study focused on the impact that participating in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training would have on individual’s knowledge of preparedness skills, behavioral intentions to become better prepared, and feelings of self-efficacy. A total of 66 people who had voluntarily enrolled in CERT training courses in four communities in Marin County, California participated in the study. They ranged in age from 16 to 75 years (M = 51, SD = 13), and there were virtually equal numbers of men and women. A survey was designed with input from county emergency management officials to measure respondents’ knowledge of various aspects of emergency response, such as fire prevention, search and rescue, first aid/CPR, and evacuation protocols. This survey also included a number of questions designed to assess obstacles to getting more prepared, feelings of self-efficacy, perceived levels of preparedness and behavioral intentions to creating or join a neighborhood CERT team in the future. A Pre-test version of this survey also included demographic items, while a Post-test version contained additional items asking people to evaluate their CERT class experience. Using a Pre-test/Post-test design, participants filled out the Pre-test version of the survey prior to the start of their first class and completed the Post-test version of the survey at the end of their last class. Results indicated significant improvement in Pre-test/Post-test scores on the fact-based questions on disaster preparedness. Furthermore, Post-test participants showed significantly higher levels of self-efficacy, stronger behavioral intentions to form a neighborhood group of their own, and significant decreases in their ratings of the importance of various obstacles to preparedness. Implications of these results for disaster preparedness education programs are discussed.
  • Natural Disasters,
  • Risk,
  • Preparedness
Publication Date
Citation Information
M. S. Davis, J. Rubinstein and S. Lemp. "Community Disaster Preparedness Training: Psychological Impact on Participants" Western Psychological Association, Annual Conference (2011)
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