Club Spotlight with The Berkeley Disaster Team

An exclusive interview with Cal’s premier club focused on preparing students to be better safe than sorry!

What is BDT?

Berkeley’s Disaster Team is an emergency preparedness and response club on a mission to keep students safe. As a club, we are centered around a three-part mission: to empower the campus community with the knowledge and skills to prepare themselves for a disaster; training students as disaster responders; and responding to disasters that affect Cal. With partners such as Rock Medicine and the City of Berkeley Office of Emergency Services, our free services and resources have had a reaching impact all around Berkeley and the SF Bay Area!

The BDT team for the 2017–2018 year!

What was the inspiration behind BDT and its foundation?

With over forty-two thousand students on campus combined with downsizing from the Office of Emergency Management and an overall shortage of individuals going into this field, it can be difficult to ensure that as a university we are prepared for when disaster strikes. But with our foundation in 2016, we have worked to distribute emergency preparation resources for students, by students (such as the do’s and don’ts during an earthquake or what to put in a go-bag). In addition, we provide the opportunity for hands-on experience working in emergency management, risk management, and working with a governmental agency.

How does BDT tie in with Senator Wang’s platform on Emergency Management?

One of Senator Wang’s platforms that he ran on was to “direct funding from the ASUC towards student organizations that increase campus readiness in the case of a major event”, which is definitely something our club champions. With the help of the ASUC, we are trying to rent our Hearst Gymnasium later this year to have an emergency preparedness fair! In addition, Will’s platform includes “ensuring greater involvement on the Disaster Relief Orientation during Golden Bear Orientation”, which we have started with last month. Prior to GBO, we did a presentation about safety to the orientation leaders to help keep everybody safe.

BDT presenting to GMO leaders earlier this semester.

What are some past events BDT have done? And what are some events we can look forward to?

Just this past summer, BDT has been working closely with Rock Medicine, a non-profit that offers free non-judgemental medical care, at SF Pride and Outside Lands to provide assistance for emergency preparation. In the past, we have staffed the campus emergency operations center for the 2016 “Free Speech” protests and provided psychological first aid (PFA) at the mass casualty incident drill held by Berkeley Medical Reserve Corps (BMRC). For this upcoming year, look forward to our preparedness campaigns (such as wildfire preparedness, active shooter drills, etc.) on Sproul Plaza and social media. We are currently in the works of hosting more public events! Keep updated with us on Facebook to hear about our up and coming events!

BDT running logistics at Outside Lands this past summer.
BDT member providing psychological first aid at the BMRC MCI Drill during Spring 2018.

What are your goals this semester?

Our main goal is to recruit! Our club is currently composed of graduating seniors and we would like to welcome more members. In addition, we are developing a comprehensive training curriculum for our members to become CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) trained. This semester, we are also working with the Tang Center and the UCPD to solve the problem with mass current shelter and active shooter training. We also have I-House and different sororities and fraternities reaching out for free small group training to prepare for disasters.

What can members get out of from being apart of BDT?

As our club is officially sponsored by the university, has helped staff the emergency center, and partnerships all around the Bay Area, there are countless opportunities for members to gain experience in field studies, project management, developing curriculum and coordination, and leadership roles!

The things I have learned in here are very vital that many don’t take into consideration every day, such as psychological first aid. It has given me the opportunity to help the typical person out and taught me how to connect with others despite not being from the medical field.
  • Brittney Phan, Public Information Officer for BDT
Coming from an unrelated background and not having an interest in joining the medical field before joining, BDT has led me to develop a growing interest and fostered an appreciation for the public health sector.
  • Mindy Dai, Deputy Director

As you can see, each member who joins gains something new! Interested in learning more? Come to our info session on Tuesday, September 11th in Barrows Room 50 from 8 to 9 PM!

To learn more about Berkeley Disaster Team and read more about our office, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our community newsletter!