Arkansas Tech University faculty member Dr. Bethany Swindell is the winner of the 2022 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 6 Community Preparedness Whole Community Award.
Swindell, instructor of emergency management at ATU, earned the recognition by establishing Arkansas’ first virtual community emergency response team (CERT) skills check-off program.
She created the online program when COVID-19 prevented the ATU Department of Emergency Management from hosting its youth preparedness camp in 2020 and 2021.
“The skills check-off allowed expansion into the entire community as it was not just focused on youth,” said Swindell. “There were 24 participants that successfully completed the skills check-off. These participants were diverse and represented various industries, ages, locations and backgrounds.”
Program participants verified their skills in disciplines such as fire suppression, first aid and search and rescue.
“The impact was positive and all participants expressed interest in continual training,” said Swindell. “Through the CERT skills check-off, 24 more individuals now have the skills to be able to assist their communities. But most excitingly, the preparedness efforts continue and expand beyond the first 24. Examples of the positive impact include the expansion of preparedness education through the Pope County Library — one of the first participants is the librarian — and inclusion of emergency management and preparedness into the special events and hospitality bachelor’s degree at ATU. Two of the participants are professors in that department.”
Swindell holds a Bachelor of Science degree in emergency administration management from ATU, a Master of Science degree in leadership and management from Western Governors University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in homeland security from Northcentral University.
A member of the ATU emergency management faculty since 2016, Swindell said she plans to continue the CERT skills check-off program and offer bi-annual opportunities to increase preparedness within communities.
Learn more about the ATU Department of Emergency Management at www.atu.edu/emergencymanagement.