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Author Interview with Vince Davis

Disaster Relief for the Native Family - by Karla Sullivan

Mr. Vincent B. Davis is a Chicago author, consultant, and Founder/President of Preparedness Matters Disaster Consulting. In this role, Mr. Davis leads a diverse national network of emergency management professionals providing services in all aspects of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, community and corporate preparedness, training, exercises, risk management and recovery.

We recently discussed the current situation of the Native Americans in North Dakota which lead to our conversation concerning the publication of The Native Family Disaster Preparedness Handbook written by Vince Davis with co-authors Kenneth R. Bibbins, Adam D. Geisler, and Sean M. Scott.

What was the inspiration for the Handbook? About a year ago, I had the opportunity to work with Native Public Media, the organization that supports the 59 radio and TV stations across the U.S., to develop an Emergency Guidebook for Broadcasters. Through that process, I began to learn a great deal about the urgent need for disaster preparedness in Native Communities. I quickly realized there was not a comprehensive source for disaster preparedness geared toward Native populations. The fact is Native communities are less prepared than any other segment of the population and, therefore, at greater risk of being injured, killed, or displaced in disasters.

What makes this book unique? First, it is the only book of its kind written for and by Native stakeholders concerning disaster issues. Secondly, it takes the maze of information available from many sources and consolidates it into a booklet that is easy to digest, and focuses on the key issues important to Native families: demystifying the disaster process, highlighting key Native resources, and covering cultural issues and concerns of the Native community such as housing and recovery. It focuses not only on underserved populations, but anyone who wishes to have a handy resource that is clear, concise, and inclusive.

What are some of the key things we should look for in the book? It contains a two-page family emergency plan template that families can complete in just a few minutes. It also has single pages on hazard specific tips for major natural disasters, that can be used anytime, and information on water purification, family reunification, and pet and livestock preparedness, as well as how to prepare a disaster kit on a budget.

Whom did you collaborate with to write the Handbook? I worked with Native Public Media, National Tribal Emergency Management Council, and other Native stakeholders throughout the process. Also, my co-author contributors, Sean Scott, Author of the Red Guide to Disaster Recovery, Adam Geisler a California tribal leader, and Kenneth Bibbins, an expert in childhood trauma and disasters.

How much will the book cost? We haven't set an initial price yet, but our intent is to make it under $10.00 per copy. The goal is to make it as inexpensive as possible so that Native families that want to purchase it may be able to do so. We are also working with corporate and private sponsors and others to purchase copies so we may be able to provide the book at no cost to Native communities in the future. The goal is to get it into as many households as possible.

When will the Handbook be available? The Handbook is in final proofing and should be released in late April. A book launch event is being planned in Chicago to officially present the book.

Where will I be able to get the Handbook? It will be available on the book website which is www.thenativefamilydisasterhandbook.com. It will also be on many Native websites as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

What other activities will you engage in to promote the Handbook? I will be appearing at Native events all over the country to conduct workshops, book signings and other events to raise awareness about the book. I'm also planning to conduct interviews, using social media, and writing articles about the book for Native and other publications.

What else do you want to tell us about the Handbook? This collaboration has been one of the most, personally and professionally, gratifying projects of my emergency management career. The warmth and kindness I've received from the Native community in writing the book has been overwhelming. Throughout the process, I've learned a great deal about Native culture and the many challenges First Americans face. I've also been impressed with the independence, pride, and humility of the people of Indian Country. I look forward to partnering with the Native Community in the years ahead to save lives and reduce suffering in disasters.

  • At the age of twelve, Karla Sullivan published her first poem in the Chicago Tribune and entered into the Keep Chicago Clean contest. She has published a variety of poetry and short stories for publishers such as Quill Books and the American Poetry Anthology as a secondary speech, drama and English teacher. Her children’s stories have also received notoriety as two were chosen for honorable mention in the 2003 Writers Digest International Contest from over 18,000 entries. She is a captivating writer that has written over 500 articles on inspiration and workplace development as the Chicago Career Coach for the widely read Examiner. But her writing extends beyond that scope, with high-level publications that include local newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune. the Patch, The Culture Trip, CBS Local, Grand and Reunion Magazine, Sacred Journey, Mature Years, Phoenix Focus, and Parachute Local MapQuest.

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