City of Boulder Launches Emergency Response Connectors Program
The City of Boulder has launched a team of Emergency Response Connectors to share COVID-19 information, educate about community resources, and document concerns and issues raised by community members – while practicing physical distancing.
The program is meant to provide equitable information distribution across the diverse cultures within Boulder through community members who are trusted voices within their neighborhoods.
The effort began earlier this month and will continue as needed to respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis on a month-by-month basis. Members of the team will be meeting weekly with city staff to get the most up-to-date information and to relay back what they are hearing about community needs. Emergency Response Connectors will prioritize their health and the health of the community by strictly following public health guidelines and maintaining physical distance.
“These connectors will focus on outreach to peers and neighbors, and this program is an effort to center lived experiences and fully hear and respond to community needs and concerns,” said Brenda Ritenour, the city’s neighborhood liaison.
Emergency Response Connectors will work to develop creative ways to keep their neighbors informed and provide opportunities for two-way communication between residents and governments. They will also help neighbors empower each other in various ways during this difficult and unique time, which may include:
- Matching high-risk neighbors with those who want to help
- Coordinating virtual gatherings for safe social connection
- Developing a virtual network through email and social media platforms if none currently exists
The city project team is conducting this pilot as a new model for supporting disaster response in the City of Boulder and Boulder County. Eleven stipend-based Emergency Response Connectors live or work within hard-to-reach or underrepresented communities, providing information in more accessible and trusted ways. Twenty-five Emergency Response Connectors are volunteers who have either led community-building efforts in their neighborhood previously or attended the Better Together disaster preparedness classes hosted by the City of Boulder and Boulder County. While the team is currently relatively small, the city project team hopes to grow as community needs are assessed and this model is tested.
Published: April 10, 2020
Ryan Hanschen, Engagement Specialist, 720-527-8847
Shelby Condit, Media Relations, 720-539-0658
Patrick von Keyserling, City of Boulder Communication Director, 720-607-2791