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AARP AARP States New Mexico

First Responders, Government Officials Invited to One-Day Symposium on Improving Disaster Readiness/Response

New Mexico, with its wide-open spaces and mountainous terrain, has always been at the mercy of wildfires and flooding. Recent events have made people even more aware of the need to have an emergency preparedness plan. Emergency responders also know that there is no such thing as being too prepared.

Paved road through a forest recovering from wildfire on cloudy day
Cavan Images/Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

That is why AARP New Mexico, together with the St. Bernard Project and the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), are bringing together first responders, government officials and other responding organizations, for a free one-day symposium, Wednesday, Aug. 23, in Las Vegas, NM, on how to improve disaster readiness and response. 

“For the last few years, we have witnessed how quickly a disaster can get out of hand,” said Joseph P. Sanchez, AARP New Mexico State Director. “The Calf Canyon Fire and Hermits Peak Fire in Northern New Mexico as well as the McBride Fire in Ruidoso come quickly to mind.” 

“We are taking advantage of the expertise that the St. Bernard Project offers to further our state and community preparedness and navigate some of the challenges our state has when these disasters cross jurisdictions,” Sanchez said.

Ali Rye, Deputy Cabinet Secretary at DHSEM, said "We recognize the pivotal role preparedness plays in safeguarding communities, and this symposium offers an amazing opportunity to bring together key stakeholders in the emergency management domain.

“Through shared experiences and open dialogue, we aspire to harness the collective wisdom of emergency managers, first responders, and elected officials. Together, we can forge a more robust roadmap for the future and be better equipped to deal with the unpredictable challenges that lie ahead,” Rye said.

The St. Bernard Project is a national disaster recovery and resilience organization dedicated to shrinking the time between disaster and recovery by reducing risk.

 "Having a symposium empowers leaders from all different backgrounds to better prepare for future disasters. SBP has highly experienced trainers that will express the importance of preparedness, resources and many more tips for when a disaster strikes," said Maria Gonzalez, Advise Education Manager for the St. Bernard Project.

The one-day symposium is specifically geared toward first responders, government agencies, and non-profit responders to discuss how to build resilient communities and improve disaster preparedness; especially when multiple agencies and governments are involved.

Participants will hear from experts, participate in numerous breakout groups discussing problems and solutions, and build common ground to increase readiness for the next natural disaster.

The event will be at:

Wednesday, August 23, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New Mexico Highlands University, Student Union Building
800 National Ave, Las Vegas, NM 87701 

The tentative agenda is as follows: 

8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. -- Meet and Greet

9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. -- Welcome and Introductions

9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. -- Leadership and Decision-Making in Disasters

10 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. -- Break

10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. -- Building a Culture of Preparedness

10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. -- Breakout Session #1

11:30 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. -- Lunch

12:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- Breakout group Out-brief Session #1

1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. -- Building Resilient Communities

1:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. --Break

2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. -- Mental Health in Disaster Recovery

2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. -- Building and sustaining Long-Term Preparedness and Recovery Groups Break

3 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. – Break

3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. -- Breakout Session #2

4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. -- Breakout group Out-brief Session #2

4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m. -- Closing Remarks

To register for this free event visit:

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