Success StoryRegional Disaster Preparedness Training

Regional Disaster Preparedness Training

Author: Kayla Watts

Planning Unit: Breathitt County CES

Major Program: Flood Relief & Recovery

Plan of Work: Unrelated to a specified County Plan of Work

Outcome: Intermediate Outcome

According to, the state of Kentucky has had nine federally declared disasters since the beginning of 2020. These disasters have affected various regions of the state causing chaos and forever changing the landscape of the Commonwealth. Because Cooperative Extension agents work in all 120 counties of Kentucky, agents have been called upon during these declared disasters to assist their local communities and leaders. Although agents want to help their clientele and counties, proper protocols, and understanding their role in the incident command center structure, has been difficult to implement.

To better prepare county agents for their role in disaster preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery, Kayla Watts, Agent on Special Assignment for Community Recovery and Resiliency, and Dr. Jeff Young, Director of Urban Extension, partnered with several local and state agencies to implement regional disaster preparation trainings for county agents in all 120 counties of Kentucky.  Partners included:  Kentucky Emergency Management, Kentucky Public Health, local Emergency Management, local and regional Health Departments, UK College of Public Health, UK Agriculture Weather Center, UK Extension Office of Diversity, UK Center for Economic Development in Kentucky (CEDIK), and Kentucky State University Extension.

Regional disaster preparedness training days took place a total of six times across the state. 353 agents attended one of the six regional disaster preparedness training days. Presenters from each of the community partners presented sessions or participated on a discussion panel where agents learned how to communicate and work through disaster response in their communities. 

Initial data shows that agents feel more comfortable responding to certain situations related to disaster response and recovery. Data also showed that agents are interested in further, more in-depth training opportunities. One agent stated, “Thank you for this training day. This gives me a list of whom I need to contact in my county so I can be more prepared for future disasters.”

The disaster preparedness training days for agents were a success. Not only did it help the participants feel better prepared for disaster mitigation and response, but it brought together state-level and community-level partners to Extension so that relationships can grow in preparation for future disaster response and recovery. 

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