Health Department's Center for Health Equity and New York City Emergency Management Host Emergency Preparedness Trainings for 25 Faith-based Organizations in Brooklyn

Participants learned how to write an emergency plan, choose a meeting place and prepare a “go bag”

July 26, 2017 — The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity (CHE) and New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) today hosted the first in a series of emergency preparedness trainings for faith-based organizations. Thirty faith leaders attended the session at the Bedford Neighborhood Health Action Center in Brooklyn and were trained in the Ready New York program. Participants learned about how to write an emergency plan, choose a meeting place, gather supplies at home and prepare a “go bag” to have for a disaster. Attendees were also trained to give Ready New York presentations in their own communities and congregations. The trainings are organized through CHE’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives; the next session is scheduled for October at the Neighborhood Action Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Emergency preparedness trainings were one of the commitments faith leaders made during this year’s Food, Fitness and Faith Summit held in April 2017. The partnership among NYCEM, the Borough of Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group, and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Health Action Centers aims to add resources and support to these neighborhoods in an equitable way that keeps all people safe and healthy.

“People look for guidance from trusted leaders in their communities during emergencies,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “It is critical for people to be prepared in the event of a disaster. Knowing how to prepare a plan or pack a ‘go bag’ with supplies could go a long way in staying safe and healthy during an emergency.”

“Local faith leaders serve as a trusted source of information and assistance to their communities, a role that becomes even more critical during emergencies,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “Working together with faith leaders and training them in the Ready New York program allows us to reach many more New Yorkers with empowering information about preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies. This is an important partnership that will help individuals and neighborhoods become better prepared and more resilient.”

“Houses of worship can play a critical role in responding to the different types of emergencies that may happen in our city,” said Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Center for Health Equity. “Our faith partners offer safe spaces where people can find spiritual and physical comfort during the stress of an emergency.”

"Faith leaders are often at the front line of support for a community in crisis" said Jonathan Soto, Executive Director at the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships. "I applaud my colleagues in the faith community and City government for proactively engaging in emergency preparedness."

"It is pertinent that organizations that have day-to-day interaction with residents, such as our faith partners, be trained to respond effectively in an emergency," said Dr. Torian Easterling, Assistant Commissioner of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Health Action Centers. "The partnership we have with NYCEM ensures that we are taking safety measures for those residents in neighborhoods experiencing longstanding historical and contemporary inequities including Bed-Stuy, Brownsville and East New York."

“Brooklyn — known far and wide as the ‘Borough of Churches’ — is a safer place to raise healthy children and families thanks to the leadership of our faith-based institutions,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “The communities they serve seek and receive valuable guidance from houses of worship in our hours of greatest need, which is why it is critical that the City continue to provide emergency preparedness trainings that advance our shared readiness for disasters. Through my administration’s Office of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives, I am committed to continue supporting this mission.”

“When disaster happens, the effects are experienced differently. There is a greater burden on minority groups, especially for the elderly who live alone. For them it could be life threatening when they are trapped in their homes. It can cause serious disruption in self-management of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Scottie Owings-Leaks, President of the Borough of Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group. “Through this training, members of the faith community can learn the basics of emergency preparedness. As a result, when a disaster happens, they have the knowledge and supplies necessary to sustain themselves while they wait for help.”

About NYC Emergency Management
Established in 1996, NYC Emergency Management is a coordinating agency for the City of New York. The agency plans and prepares for emergencies, educates the public about preparedness, coordinates emergency response and recovery, and collects and disseminates emergency information.

About Ready New York
Ready New York is NYC Emergency Management’s public education campaign. Through the program, New Yorkers can learn about hazards in New York City and prepare for all types of emergencies by writing an emergency plan, choosing a meeting place, gathering supplies, and preparing a Go Bag. NYC Emergency Management can send knowledgeable staff members to educate workplaces, schools, community centers, houses of worship, and other groups about preparing for emergencies. Learn more or request at event at

About the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives
The Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in the Center for Health Equity (CHE) leads the Health Department’s effort to create sustainable partnerships with the faith community and address health inequities in New York City. The initiative builds partnerships with the faith community through borough-specific Interfaith Advisory Groups.

About the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity
Founded in 2014, the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity amplifies the agency’s work to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The division takes a number of approaches to invest in key neighborhoods, eliminate the social barriers to good health and advance health equity throughout New York City. The Neighborhood Health Action Centers link residents with local primary care and community services. The Action Centers also provide space for community-based organizations and Health Department staff to work together to advance neighborhood health. For more information on the Center for Health Equity, visit

Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using #NYCHealthEquity.


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