APHA's 2010 Get Ready Scholarship: Excerpts from winning essays

Six students — at the high school, undergraduate and graduate college levels — were chosen from 900 applicants as the winners of APHA's 2010 Get Ready Scholarship. Below are excerpts from the winning essays.


• Leah Wight— Golden Valley High School, Merced, Calif. (high school level)

Permanent preparation

Geographically, the most probable natural disaster to occur where I live would be an earthquake. I live in the Central Valley of California, so I have experienced a mild earthquake or two. But I certainly haven't experienced anything even close to the same magnitude as the Haiti earthquake. This recent catastrophe has urged me to rethink my own family's earthquake disaster plans....Earthquake prevention is impossible, and earthquake prediction is near impossible. The only way we can protect ourselves is through planning and preparing. Earthquakes can shatter windows, destroy houses, annihilate entire cities, but they cannot eradicate my earthquake preparedness.


• Courtney Farr — Robert L. Patton High School, Morganton, N.C. (high school level)

Great floods in the valley

I live in the Foothills of North Carolina and happen to be in the direct vicinity of the large Catawba Valley. We do not receive a tremendous amount of precipitation, but when we do the rain usually comes in such large quantities, flooding seems almost inevitable...Based on my experiences and watching the devastating effects in my community, I am now more aware of the weather expected for my area. If another natural disaster such as a dangerous flood were to occur again, this time I would make sure to have a safe and effective plan and follow through to the best of my abilities...Ultimately, you have to know there is no way to stop a natural disaster, just be prepared for it the best you can and take the necessary precautions.


• Brittany Voorhees — Holy Names University, Oakland, Calif. (undergraduate level)

Earthquake reality: The first 72 hours

Living in Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay area specifically, there is always the potential for a significant seismic event. This is particularly true in both the area I live and the university I will be attending this fall as a junior. Living and going to school on two major active earthquake faults presents an ever-present awareness and challenge to prepare for the inevitable. The thought that "it will never happen here,” simply is not a viable approach to follow. With this awareness comes the need to be prepared to survive for at least 72 hours without assistance from outside sources. This requires food, water, medical necessities and information on friends and fellow students on campus.


• Delaney Moore — Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Ind. (undergraduate level)

Pandemic preparation

Winter is the season for cold skies and warm, bacteria-filled buildings. People constantly find themselves overcome with illness. This is the time of the year when hygiene is most important, especially in a dorm setting where students are in close corridors. Preparation for the flu season as well as constant awareness and care throughout the flu season will result in less illness and life-changing habits. In the incident of an emerging epidemic, such as the recent H1N1 (outbreak), taking precautions is vital for protection. It's important to educate, supply and enforce hygiene behavior. At a college campus, many actions can be taken.


• Tazeen Dhanani — George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. (graduate level)

Prevention, preparation and partnership to fuel community readiness

Public health emergencies like natural disasters and infectious disease outbreaks are inevitable. Events such as fires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes are disasters that people usually have very little to no control over, yet these disasters have the most impact on its victims and others indirectly affected by them...However, whether it is a devastating earthquake that affects the entire global community or a small house fire that (displaces) only a single family, the need for planning well in advance of these disasters will most effectively serve the victims' needs. Having a plan and putting that plan into action during crises will prepare communities on a scale far superior and with more efficacy than having no plan at all.


• Kristen Paz — Pepperdine University, Malibu, Calif. (graduate level)

Earthquakes: Prepping for the aftermath of California’s faults

...All Californians should ensure that their communities are prepared to sustain themselves for three days in the event of a major quake. Each family should have a preparedness plan. Creating guidelines on how to prepare should be a consolidated effort of the fire and police departments, county agencies, city officials and residents. Distributing these guidelines can be accomplished at city council meetings, via direct mail pieces and articles in local papers, neighborhood watch meetings and through local groups such as baseball and soccer leagues and YMCA. City engineers can advise on which areas are more likely to sustain higher levels of damage as they have a greater understanding of possible structure and soil issues.

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