DRI Activities 2016/2017

On May 4th, 2016 Deaf Community Services partnered with The City of Carlsbad and The County of San Diego OES to provide their first responders training on how to work with the Deaf community in the event of a disaster. They staged a mock emergency and we provided 12 deaf victims and 14 DRI certified interpreters mixed in with regular volunteers. The deaf victims were staged to look injured, and the interpreters were on standby ready to be called when needed. The emergency responders had no idea there were deaf volunteers in the pool, so it was a great learning experience for them on how to locate an interpreter and treat a deaf victim in an emergency.

Each of the deaf victims wore a card that explained their injuries, and when a responder encountered one, they had to radio to their POC who then called us and an interpreter was dispatched to assist with communication. In the beginning, there was confusion on how to locate an interpreter, but it did not take long for the responders to learn the process. This was the first time deaf people were integrated into a mock emergency drill and it was very impactful for all of the responders. This mock drill also gave our interpreters practice on interpreting in an emergency situation. They were all thrilled at the opportunity and it was extremely beneficial. This kind of training is imperative so we can be sure the deaf community’s needs are being met in the event of a disaster.

Continuing our goal of improving access, Deaf Community Services of San Diego hosted Disaster Response Interpreter (DRI) certification training in conjunction with CalOES and Nor Cal Center on Deafness on Saturday March 25th, 2017. Molly Bowen and Jim Brune, both certified DRI trainers, came to San Diego to present the training along with Dave Maloney, the local Red Cross director. It was an 8 hour training that went over the logistics of interpreting for the deaf community in shelters and press conferences. This workshop was made possible by a generous donation from SDG&E to continue training for our Eric Poe Interpreting Corps (EPIC). EPIC was implemented to ensure the communication needs of the Deaf community are met during a disaster in San Diego County.

The course highlighted the emergency management structure, media and press protocols, shelter operation, recovery services, DRI policies, procedures and interpreter readiness. Dave Maloney highlighted shelter procedures/protocol. There were interactive activities; press conference practice and group discussions to give the interpreters an idea of what to expect when called to work in these settings. Thirty-eight participants were in attendance. Thirty-three of the participants were national certified interpreters; one was a nationally certified deaf interpreter; and four were DCS staff members who received the training to assist in the coordination during a disaster.

At the end of the training, all of the interpreters were fingerprinted and photographed for their CalOES DRI certification. They will be given a badge to access shelter areas so they can provide interpretation when needed. They were each given a backpack with personal emergency supplies that they could use if deployed to a shelter. The backpacks included; flashlight, water purification tablets, solar radio/phone charger, leatherman tool, light sticks, a personal first aid kit, duct tape, hand sanitizer, matches, extra batteries, an interpreter-identification vest and a San Diego city map. The training, continuing education units (CEUs), backpacks, breakfast and lunch were all provided free to the participants thanks to the generous grant from SDG&E.

We are very grateful to have been able to provide these trainings for our community. It is imperative that everyone in San Diego have access to communication and information during a disaster. We have provided the DRI training three times since 2012. The interpreters used their training for press conferences and at the shelters during the 2012 and 2014 San Diego County wildfires. San Diego County is also being looked at as a national model and other cities in the country are adopting similar programs. We look forward to continuing these trainings and working closely with The County of San Diego OES and CalOES.