Emergency Preparedness Buddies Program

Satellite photo of Hurricane IreneHow it all started…

Shortly after Hurricane Irene, which affected Brookline in August 2011, the Council on Aging learned of a deaf resident whose TTY telephone was rendered useless due to a long lasting power outage in her building. She was concerned about being able to access help if she needed it during a future emergency.

Staff from the Council on Aging, working with the Brookline Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) leadership, developed the Emergency Preparedness Buddies Program to help seniors become better prepared for emergencies. The goal of the program is to improve emergency preparedness and resilience.

Who do we help?

A Buddy is shown helping a resident with her emergency preparednessThe Emergency Preparedness Buddies Program (EP Buddies) assists Brookline elders and adults with disabilities who live alone to prepare for and respond to emergency situations.

The program was initially designed as a one-to-one concept matching a Brookline MRC or CERT volunteer with an elder resident “buddy”. Through a series of home-visits, the MRC/CERT volunteer evaluates their buddy’s personal circumstances and provides guidance to help them prepare for emergencies. Elder buddies also receive phone calls ahead of known emergencies, such as heat waves, hurricanes, or blizzards, to remind them to prepare ahead of time. This one-to-one concept was well-received, but did not gain traction in the community.

How do we help?

We continue to offer a modified version of our one-to-one program by request. Each buddy completes a ‘File of Life’ to identify emergency contacts and medical needs; develops a communication plan; and builds an emergency reserve of food and medications suitable for sheltering in place. Buddies also learn to pack a go-bag for emergencies, including trips to the hospital.

Since 2018, the EP Buddies program has offered similar assistance in a small group setting. We offer monthly group sessions on different aspects of preparedness in several senior housing buildings, and at the Brookline Senior Center. The group setting encourages residents to build social ties, which are an important component of resilience.

Photo of items that go in a Go-Bag, such as first aid kit, flashlight, radio, pill box etc...Some of the subjects we discuss include:

  • File of Life
  • Communication plans
  • Go Bags
  • Sheltering in place
  • Vital documents
  • Pet preparedness
  • Seasonal preparedness (winter/summer)
  • Fire safety

We currently schedule EP Buddy group sessions the Brookline Senior Center, as well as various locations managed by the Brookline Housing Authority, WinnCo’s Village at Brookline, and Hebrew Senior Life’s Center Communities of Brookline. Please reach out to those organizations' building managers to learn when the next session is happening in your building.

More information is available in the EP Buddies Program Brochure.

Contact us if:Logo of Metro Boston Homeland Security. A Minuteman rides a horse below nine stars

  • You are a Brookline elder or adult with access and/or functional needs wishing one-on-one assistance for your preparedness needs.
  • You live in a building with access to a community room and would like to organize preparedness sessions through our program. We ask a minimum of 8 participants to schedule a preparedness session.

This project is supported with federal funding from the US Department of Homeland Security's Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

  1. Sophie Gordon

    Emergency Preparedness Buddies Coordinator