Jill Washburn, community service coordinator, 406.238.7394,
RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105,

Three-day State Disaster Institute offered at Rocky Mountain College for Montana collegians  

BILLINGS, August 12, 2014 – The Governor’s Office of Community Service, Montana Department of Emergency Services, and the American Red Cross of Montana (ARCMT) will host three days of disaster training for college-age community members October 16 to 18 at Rocky Mountain College.

“Training will be a great opportunity for students interested in healthcare or emergency response careers, but is open to anyone interested in disaster response,” said Jill Washburn, community service coordinator at RMC. 

The State Disaster Institute offers three tracks of training for volunteers from Montana colleges and universities: basic disaster preparedness training; CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training; and American Red Cross basic disaster response training including sheltering. CERT teams assist in disaster response in communities nationwide, in roles from public health to rebuilding. American Red Cross of Montana trains for and responds to about 135 natural and man-made disasters in Montana each year.

The website describes community service opportunities for Montanans to train to assist one another and prepare for disasters ranging from fire and flood to public health emergencies. The Ready Campus initiative of Montana Campus Compact builds the capacity of higher education institutions to effectively plan for and respond to local disasters. RMC’s Fortin Education Center is already an ARCMT-designated shelter for part of Billings. 

Meals and travel to the State Disaster Institute will be provided to the first 50 registrants. To register, contact or call 406.243.5177 and ask for the disaster institute program coordinator. 

RMC students and staff will host and attend the three-day seminar organized to help make RMC a Ready Campus. Some will volunteer in simulations to train community volunteers. Others will focus on the basics of setting up a shelter to support the local community as a sheltering partner in disaster. At an April 2014 public health drill in Billings, RMC physician assistant students participated as patients and helped to create scenarios for the practicing responders. 

Washburn said, “We hope many RMC students attend the conference. We’re glad to bring the groups together to help students and Montana colleges become more effective community responders.” 

Ready Campus is a collaboration between Montana Campus Compact and American Red Cross of Montana. Funding for the Ready Campus initiative is provided in part by the Corporation for National & Community Service, through a 9/11 National Day of Service & Remembrance grant.