Two West Virginia University undergraduate nursing students have won recognition for their efforts to increase county-wide emergency readiness levels in Taylor County, W.Va. Jaleesa Claytor of Beckley, W.Va. and Brienne Rudy of Iselin, N.J. received the award for Outstanding Student Community Service Project at this year’s annual West Virginia Rural Health Conference in Daniels, W.Va.

Claytor and Rudy worked with Taylor County officials and local health professionals to both assess and address the rapid response needs of the rural county. In the years since the September 11 attacks, emergency preparedness has moved far up the list of public health concerns. Still, very few smaller communities have developed well-defined plans to follow in the event of a disaster.

The pair’s work centered around educating local officials about the Strategic National Stockpile, a federal program that allows medications and medical supplies to be delivered to any health department in the event of any disaster that could potentially empty existing local supplies. The public only has access to SNS resources when state and local health departments cooperate to establish emergency plans and designated points for dispensing the free medications and supplies.

The Taylor County initiative was each student’s capstone project, a senior year requirement that allows students to apply and expand learned skills in a real-life setting.

WVU School of Nursing students have claimed top honors for community service for four consecutive years at the annual conference

“I was shocked and very honored to receive this award,” said Rudy. “I had no idea how much of an impact our little project had on the community of Taylor County and the state of West Virginia.”

Results of Claytor’s and Rudy’s work showed greatly increased knowledge of emergency response plans and SNS dispensing procedures among the officials and public health professionals who participated.

“I am completely honored,” Claytor said. “The capstone project was hard work, but knowing that it created a great impact on a small community was well worth it. And that is the true award.”


CONTACT: Amy Johns, HSC News Service