This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management. The author of this post, Lauren Stienstra, is the Senior Manager for Research and Policy Development in the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management.
I took my first CPR class when I was 12. I was preparing to be a babysitter. I had taken classes, watched my neighbor’s kids, and was ready to finish my “résumé” and make some spending money. I loved it. In class, I liked learning how the body worked (and failed) and loved the idea that I could help save lives.
My stint in babysitting was brief — not because I was bored or particularly bad at it — but because it evolved into a summer job as a lifeguard, then a college job as an EMT, and eventually a career as an emergency manager here in Arlington. “Emergency Manager” was not my dream job as a 12-year-old, but the early exposure to the ideas and skills around emergencies started me down a path that would lead me to an incredibly fulfilling role and career in this community.
This was part of the motivation for launching a career development program that we’re calling “HERricane Arlington.” Not many women consider careers in public safety and we’re hoping to close some of those gaps. HERricane Arlington provides young women (ages 13-17) a chance to explore emergency management and allied fields through exciting activities and exercises. We’re trying to grow and support tomorrow’s public health nurses, meteorologists, and journalists to ensure that the future has a team that can handle hurricanes, derechos, and outbreaks.
So, if you know a girl who has ever wanted to learn how to use a fire extinguisher, wondered what to do after a tornado, or dreamed of being the journalist who reports the next big disaster, this could be the program they remember for the rest of their lives!
Why HERricane Arlington?
Representation: Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in emergency management across the nation. They occupy 34% of staff-level positions and even fewer director-level ones.
Employment: Public safety jobs in Virginia grew 15% over the past decade and are expected to keep growing (13% by 2020!) making this a great career choice for many young women.
Empowerment: According to the United Nations Development Programme women are more likely to be victims of disaster, especially in regards to death, sexual violence, and loss of income. Equipping girls with disaster response skills will empower them to be able to help themselves and their communities after major incidents.
What is it, exactly?
HERricane Arlington is more than a weeklong camp, it’s a community. Graduates will be encouraged to continue to develop their skills through post-camp programming and mentoring throughout the following year.
Summer Camp: A jam-packed, week-long program exploring disaster response and leadership skills, including.
- Storm spotting
- Fire extinguisher training
The Aftermath: A series of monthly activities so graduates can continue to develop in the field of emergency management. Attend our activities, earn points, win prizes! Activities include:
- Ropes course
- Movie watch parties
- 24 hours of community service alongside EM professionals
Mentorship and Early Career Support: Graduates of HERricane Arlington will be offered mentorship as well as internship and volunteer opportunities to launch them into meaningful careers.
Join the Storm!
For more information and to apply, go to: ReadyArlington.com
This program is supported by a number of partners, including the American Red Cross as well as Arlington Public Schools. We’re also fortunate to be funded by many community donors.