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May 2, 2007 3:37 PM

Top Marks Go to Students Who Helped Woolwich CAER Group

April 26, 2007 News Release from Woolwich CAER

Elmira, Ontario - Woolwich CAER [Community Awareness and Emergency Response] Group member company Home Hardware, presented four Conestoga College students with $100.00 gift certificates today thanking them for their award-winning research project.

The local CAER Group, formed to promote community safety by assisting in the development and maintenance of effective emergency management, knew they were fortunate when chosen by the student marketing team to be their project client last fall. After learning the students won an award as well as top marks for their work, CAER members now feel privileged.

For the past two years, the CAER Group has been focusing on promoting proper emergency procedures among Woolwich residents. "They wanted research that would assess their communication efforts around Shelter-in-Place education and benchmark emergency response awareness levels, particularly in Elmira," says Lisa Symons, Marketing Program Coordinator for the College. This seemed a perfect fit for marketing students that are required to complete a year-long team research project for a community client of their choice before graduating.

"When communicating emergency oriented information, you want to focus on tactics that work," says Stacey Ferris-White, Chair of the Woolwich CAER Group. "We knew market research could help tell us that." At most, CAER members were hoping to get some free data that would point them in the right direction.
The four students, Sally Prosser, Andreea Racolta, Natasha Marrocco and Heather Largy far exceeded the CAER Group's expectations when they presented a 50-page report highlighting findings for six research objectives from 250 survey results.

The group spoke to 200 Elmira residents and 50 from St. Jacobs where emergency responders hope to implement an emergency community alert network next. Residents were asked if they know what to do in an emergency, are they familiar with the community alert network that leaves emergency phone messages or how to Shelter-in-Place after hearing the town siren? About 40 per cent of respondents said they knew about some emergency procedures but not specifically, which did not surprise the CAER Group. "We knew we'd have more work to do around promoting Shelter-in-Place, but more importantly we wanted to know the best method for doing so," explains Ferris-White. Beyond an awareness check, the research team was able to relay that residents get most of their information from local newspapers, word-of-mouth and the schools - in that order. It was also evident that women were more likely to seek and retain the information. Women are more avid users of websites to gather information and it was recommended we promote further the emergency response information on Woolwich Township's Website.

Beyond implementing some of the team's recommendations, the group is looking forward to dissecting the report for more clues about reaching different neighbourhood groups, creating new communication materials and branding. CAER members, including local fire departments, will be hosting a community alert network test in Elmira on May 9th, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. as part of Emergency Preparedness Week activities. Residents are asked to practice Shelter-in-Place by going inside when they hear the town siren and waiting for a practice phone message.

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