Mary Bentley, an associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, isn’t trying to stoke any fears when she talks about disaster preparedness. But she’s also taking an honest assessment of what she sees.
“The number of disasters we’re seeing has gone up, and it’s important that we adapt,” she said.
Bentley and the students in her Community and Public Health course are on the front lines of that change. As part of the Ithaca College Public Health Initiatives, a collaboration between the college and the Tompkins County Health Department that began in 2013, the students receive public health responder training so they can assist in a campus public health emergency.
The students also receive online training that teaches skills like psychological first aid, which supports effective emergency responses by reducing the distress caused by traumatic events. Additionally, they assist with the college’s annual flu vaccination clinic, which serves hundreds of IC students, faculty and staff.
That particular initiative helped the county win a 2019 Model Practice Award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials. It was also selected as one of the top 10 “best of the best” model practices out of over 150 submissions. But the benefit is even greater for the Ithaca College community.