CRGC students, Alyssa Wood and Keagan Smith, from University of South Alabama showcase their poster presentation at the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference.

CRGC students, Alyssa Wood and Keagan Smith, from the University of South Alabama showcase their poster presentation at the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, which took place February 6-9 in New Orleans, LA.

The poster provided a conceptual review of the utilization of Lay Health Workers (LHWs) in aiding recovery efforts following natural and technological disasters. Wood and Smith focused on two types of LHWs trained by the University of South Alabama’s Coastal Resource and Resiliency Center (CRRC): (1) Volunteer Peer Health Advocates (PHAs) and (2) Community Health Workers (CHWs).

PHAs and CHWs are well-equipped to aid in the aftermath of disasters because they are trusted members of their communities, can effectively communicate to fellow community members, are knowledgeable of available local resources, and are familiar with area needs and vulnerabilities. Most importantly, these PHAs and CHWs are trained as “peer listeners,” so they are equipped with the skills to triage disaster survivors and provide referrals for needed resources, allowing recovery personnel, especially counselors and social workers, to do their jobs more efficiently.