The Community Health Worker (CHW) Training project is a program designed by the Institute for Disaster Management (IDM) in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Public Health to train and prepare CHWs for disasters. In this program, IDM developed a 3-day course to provide CHWs in Georgia with the requisite information and resources to understand their role before, during, and after a disaster.
CHWs are frontline health workers who engage with their community and/or individuals in their community based on understanding and trust. CHWs often share similar life experiences, language, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status with the community they serve. CHWs are trained to assist their communities with racial and ethnic disparities, chronic medical conditions, access to healthcare, health equity, behavioral health, etc. However, CHWs do not receive training on personal preparedness or potential response roles in their communities during a disaster.
Disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity every year. Many factors lead to the increase, including climate change, deforestation, pollution, radicalization, political discord, globalization, new and emerging infectious diseases, etc. Georgia is no stranger to its fair share of disasters. Georgia experiences flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornados, hurricanes, heat emergencies, opioids, winter weather, infectious disease outbreaks, chemical spills, violence, and many others. CHWs interacting with the public must be prepared to protect themselves and their communities for each of these manifestations.
The training program spans 3-days, with two 6-hour days dedicated to emergency preparedness training and one 8-hour day for psychological first-aid, infectious disease, and opioid education. Coursework covers personal and workforce preparedness, bioterrorism agents, and opioid crisis solutions.