February 16, 2018

Week 13: Feb. 5-11, 2018 in Puerto Rico

United Steelworkers (USW) Local Union 9-288 member Billy Edington, along with Wind of the Spirit representative Diana Mejia were the next Specialized Emergency Response Trainers to arrive in Puerto Rico. The SERTs met with Rafael Caballero, from Metropolitan University in San Juan, who scheduled them for a mentoring session with worker-trainers. Caballero also works with the Institute for Environmental Education – Atlantic OSHA Training Center.

Edington and Mejia began a two-day train-the-trainer session, with an emphasis on mold, on Monday. The session concluded on Wednesday. Edington shared that two more classes were scheduled for Thursday and Friday. The training took place at the USW District 4 office in Bayamon.

The SERTs visited Centro de Apoyo Mutuo in Caguas on Tuesday.

“This is a community initiative that provides alternative medicine [like] acupuncture, massage, etc., and lunch every day since Maria hit the island for more than 100 people per day,” Mejia said.

The SERTs explained their outreach initiative in Puerto Rico and shared information about opportunities for health, safety and environmental training.

On Thursday Mejia and Edington traveled to Cataño and conducted a four-hour mold awareness training for 26 participants, including two young boys, ages 13 and 14. The participants consisted of community members and municipal workers.

The SERTs facilitated four-hour infectious disease training for 18 participants on Friday. Following the class, Mejia and Edington confirmed more training including an OSHA 10-hour course in construction on Feb. 27-28, resiliency for UMET workers on Feb. 12 and another OSHA-10 on Feb. 14-15 in Ponce for USW members.

Continuing their work into the weekend, the SERTs traveled to Humacao on Saturday and met with Father Vincente, who expressed interest in training.

“We spoke to some of the parishioners at the church, [who] have been helping people clean their houses,” Mejia said.

She left them with NIEHS booklets that inform responders how to protect themselves while cleaning up in the aftermath of natural disasters.

The SERTs then went on to Punta Santiago and connected with Father Jose Colon, administer for the Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen church.

“He invited us to talk to people that came to get lunch,” Mejia said.

“The church became a center after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico,” Mejia said. “For the first month they were providing around 400 meals per day and for the last four months they are providing 200 hot meals a day.”

The SERTs spoke directly with 45 people, passing out multiple NIEHS booklets to each of them.

“We will come back Sunday to talk to the congregation and deliver more NIEHS books,” Mejia said.

On Sunday the SERTs traveled to Punta Santiago and gave a presentation for 150 (plus) church and community members. Following the presentation, they headed to Jibacoa to meet with members of another church and passed out more NIEHS booklets.

Category Archive


Monthly Archive