September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This month recognizes the important contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. One program known for such contributions is LISTOS. LISTOS was recently featured at the California For All CERT and LISTOS Conference.
Translated from Spanish, “listos” means “smart,” “ready,” or “prepared.” Based in California, LISTOS is an emergency preparedness course tailored to Spanish speakers. The program addresses barriers they might face, even beyond language. For example, some people also feel intimidated when they interact with emergency responders. Cost and time can also be barriers.
LISTOS courses include four sessions. Sessions cover topics such as supply kits, basic first aid, communication plans, and more. All sessions are discussion-based in an informal, relaxed setting. Instead of a classroom, LISTOS connects with people in their homes, at barbecues, in houses of worship, and in other community spaces. In these ways, LISTOS stresses the importance of preparedness, while remaining accessible and culturally relevant.
Much of LISTOS’ success is rooted in its partnerships in the communities it serves. LISTOS partners with local leaders, nonprofits, schools, and faith- or community-based organizations. The program uses the existing strengths and bonds in the community to educate and prepare for emergencies and disasters. These partnerships foster trust and action. LISTOS also introduces participants to first responders in non-emergency situations. Together, they gather over meals and talk about how they can prepare.
LISTOS Director Liliana Encinas has been involved with the program since 2012. She now leads the program’s outreach efforts. She believes LISTOS has been so successful because it is, “flexible, adaptable, and portable.”
Michael Williams, President-Executive Director of the Fire Services Training Institute and head of the Alertar y Preparar and California for All LISTOS programs, agrees. “The reason LISTOS works,” he says, “is because it is different from other structured programs.” He adds that, “it is based on the concept of less is more and simple is best.”
This format has worked very well so far. Once participants spread the word, the class size may triple. Some even quadruple in size. Both Encinas and Williams feel LISTOS serves as a stepping stone to more advanced training like CERT.
LISTOS began with the support of the Orfalea Foundation and the Aware and Prepare Initiative. The pilot program was launched in Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded to 45 registered programs throughout the state and beyond.
Bringing LISTOS to your community may help educate more people. It is also simple and inexpensive! If you are interested in learning more, you can find more information on LISTOS’ website.
This article first appeared in the monthly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter. Subscribe here.