Facilitating the Development of a Local COAD

No two disasters are alike. The impact on each individual is different.The needs of each are unique and often unmet. However, a community and its citizens are unquestionably better served if a Community Organization Active in Disaster (COAD) is in place for planning and education long before a disaster strikes. Communities that bring resources together in a COAD can increase the effectiveness of their response to the needs of disaster survivors in a timely way, thereby reducing the social and economic impact of the disaster.

Here are basic steps you need to follow for facilitating your local COAD or Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) through Extension. The EDEN Resource Catalog has examples of materials for each step outlined below that can be found here. Questions or comments can be directed to the material developers, Carrie McKillip, or Mike Gaffney, or to the EDEN Project Coordinator, Abby Hostetler.

Reviewing Your Capacity

As Extension Professionals, there are many projects to undertake, and an office can quickly get overwhelmed. If the local office has the capacity to lead the development of the COAD, it must be included as part of the overall plan of work. The pilot project through the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) focused on rural counties in several states. Many of the resources this document links to are from the pilot experiences,

Get the support of your local Emergency Management Director (EMD) and your State Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL)

This is critical!! You can’t move forward without support from your EMD. If you don’t know this person, make an appointment to meet and get to know each other.

Identify other agencies and organizations that need to be part of the COAD

Make a list of agencies and organizations in your community, as well as those serving your community that may be headquartered in another community, who have a role in emergency management or emergency human services. Be sure to include the faith-based community.

Invite agencies and organizations to a COAD organizational meeting

A letter of invitation will receive the best response if it is co-signed by your Emergency Management Director. The individuals and groups invited should cover as wide a scope of resources as possible.  In some areas private businesses and individuals may also become a members, especially if they are the only link to a needed resource.

Developing Leadership, bylaws, policies and not-for-profit status for the COAD

Getting organized and becoming a recognized COAD by the state Emergency Management Agency is important. It is also crucial in this step to identify either an existing 501(c)3 to serve as fiscal agent, or begin proceedings to become a stand-alone 501(c)3. In most cases, tapping into an existing 501 (c)3 is the best choice.

Determine Functional Areas or Annexes your COAD will address

Your COAD will need to prioritize the areas they will address. These areas will be dependent upon specific risks of the regions and the community expertise, capacity and engagement.

COAD Member training

In order to be effective before, during, and after a disaster, COAD members need training. There are many avenues for training, including the on-line NIMS trainings, or in person FEMA Trainings, Conferences etc. Also, your state emergency management agency may have additional training resources. As an Extension Project, you may also choose to utilize EDEN Resources and Programs for trainings.

Keeping the COAD alive and healthy during non-disaster times

Participation during a disaster is high; but what about after the disaster is over and the needs have been met? Each COAD will need to determine how they will stay active in times where disasters have not been an issue. Below are some exercises and drills that might be useful to keep COAD members engaged.  Included in this resource in the catalog are ideas or programs pilot sites used to keep members engaged, as well as a wide array of materials to assist Extension Staff in planning.

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