The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) will help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) promote a program to build safer, stronger and better-prepared communities.
AACC this week signed an agreement with FEMA, which is located in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to support Citizen Corps, a community-based initiative to bring government and community leaders together to involve citizens and organizations in all-hazards emergency preparedness, planning, response and recovery.
The program supports citizen involvement in homeland security and community and family preparedness through participation in planning, public education and outreach, training opportunities and other activities to prepare for natural disasters, terrorism and public health and safety issues. Currently, there are more than 2,200 Citizen Corps councils across the country.
Community colleges have taken the lead in homeland security education, with nearly 80 percent of police, fire and emergency medical technicians receiving their credentials from public two-year colleges.
AACC President George Boggs opened the signing meeting by noting how community colleges helped in last week’s floods in Iowa and wildfires in California (See story, Page 1). He noted Kirkwood Community College (Iowa) and Butte College (California) both served as staging areas and command centers respectively to tackle the natural disasters their communities faced.
"That’s one of the reasons this partnerships makes a lot of sense," Boggs said.
Dennis Schrader, FEMA’s deputy administrator for national preparedness, said volunteer programs often face uncertainty as to whether they will continue under the next president, but the good ones do. And Schrader said he expected this one to do so because community colleges are vital to community residents and leaders.
"Everything starts from the bottom up, from the local level," said Schrader, who once served as a county commissioner in Maryland. "And a lot of roads lead through the community college."