Franklin Medical Reserve Corps podcast bolsters emergency preparedness

Franklin Medical Reserve Corps volunteer Denise Schwartz interviews Judy Raper, associate dean for community engagement at Greenfield Community College, about her experience during the pandemic. By recording oral histories of older adults in Franklin County to compile a record of their navigation and resilience through the pandemic, Franklin Medical Reserve Corps volunteers felt inspired to launch their latest project, “Prep School: A Readiness Podcast.”

Franklin Medical Reserve Corps volunteer Denise Schwartz interviews Judy Raper, associate dean for community engagement at Greenfield Community College, about her experience during the pandemic. By recording oral histories of older adults in Franklin County to compile a record of their navigation and resilience through the pandemic, Franklin Medical Reserve Corps volunteers felt inspired to launch their latest project, “Prep School: A Readiness Podcast.” FILE PHOTO

By GRACE LEE

For the Recorder

Published: 03-22-2024 10:00 AM

Franklin Medical Reserve Corps volunteers Denise Schwartz and Carmela Lanza-Weil have the answers to all your in-case-of-emergency questions and more in “Prep School: A Readiness Podcast.”

With the first episode having been released on Nov. 29, 2023, there are now seven episodes, averaging about 20 minutes each, for listeners to enjoy. Each episode features a new guest, who speaks in conversation with Schwartz about all topics related to health and emergencies.

Informing and reaching the local population is the podcast’s main objective, according to Schwartz.

“If you can build a really strong neighborhood and start working at a local level to build trust in the folks you live with,” Schwartz said, “you’re going to be able to bounce back better from an emergency or disaster.”

What to pack in a spare bag to be ready to go in case of an emergency, causes of dopamine spikes, the impact of a dementia diagnosis, and who plans for and responds to natural disasters are some of the topics and questions covered in the podcast, which is recorded in the multimedia studios at Greenfield Community College.

Schwartz began volunteering with the Franklin Medical Reserve Corps during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was able to work at some of the [vaccination] clinics,” she recounted. “That was really wonderful.”

During her time volunteering, Schwartz also began recording oral histories of older adults in Franklin County to compile a record of their navigation and resilience through the pandemic.

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“We realized that the stories, the oral histories … had a lot of great information in there and getting people’s stories was important,” Schwartz said. “And at the same time, we realized that in the Medical Reserve Corps, we have 300 volunteers who have so much to say. … We thought, well, why don’t I host some podcasts about topics that are important in terms of preparedness.”

Although Schwartz said there is “so much to talk about and ... so little time,” the topics for each episode are generated by talking to community members and volunteers, and the expertise of each guest on the show.

A certain episode stands out to Schwartz in particular, however: Episode 6, “Pack your GO bag and GO!” Schwartz and Lanza-Weil talk about the importance of always having a bag packed with essentials in your home in case you need to evacuate from a fire or other disaster.

“If, suddenly, there was a fire in the building that you’re in and you needed to evacuate, what would you take with you?” Schwartz asked. “This is something that I really started thinking about a lot, to tell you the truth.”

Another episode Schwartz referenced was Episode 3, “The Diagnosis is Dementia,” which features Meg Ryan, a public health nurse with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments and a dementia specialist. Ryan talks about how to cope with and prepare for the dementia diagnosis of an elderly loved one.

“There is so much life experience that older adults have that can tell us how we can weather the storm, how we can move forward,” Schwartz said.

The purpose of the podcast is not to worry listeners or send them into panic mode, Schwartz noted. The purpose is to build a baseline of shared knowledge so that the Franklin County community can be more prepared in the future. “For folks who are involved in emergency management, they might want to have some refreshers,” but the podcast is also geared toward the general public, she said.

“[It’s] information for anyone who needs to be prepared for a disaster,” Schwartz said.

The podcasts are available at rss.com/podcasts/theprepschool.