Portable Classrooms: Creating Flexible Classrooms

Portable Classrooms: Creating Flexible Classrooms


Portable classrooms are an innovative solution that creates a productive learning environment and caters to new and changing populations. They ensure the extension of learning activities during school renovations, new school construction or emergency situations. Portable classrooms are also known as modular classrooms and are equally useful as daycares, training facilities or professional offices.

What is a portable classroom?

A white portable classroom with a playground out front

July 2016 rebuild after earthquake in April

A portable or modular classroom refers to a building that is constructed off-site in a factory setting. What this means is that the materials used in the construction of the building and the entire process of construction take place within a factory. Instead of bringing them to the site to begin construction where the classroom is intended to be.

Once the classrooms have undergone full construction, they are shipped in parts (or whole if possible) to its future location.

What are the benefits of portable classrooms?

Portable classrooms are famous for specific reasons, and below are some of the reasons why there is a need for these modern building designs.


Portable classrooms are derived from the fact that they are highly flexible and can quickly be moved from one place to another. They are highly suitable for schools that need additional space, especially in an emergency situation.This means is they can be delivered to a school for temporary use and removed once the need for them is no longer necessary.  Also, the school also has the luxury of moving the classroom to any other area of choice. Such benefits are not associated with traditional buildings.


As the population increases, the number of students or people gaining admission into schools also increases to a level that sometimes chokes the schools.  The schools need to find a quick solution to the new challenge considering that they have to keep up with the curriculum and academic calendar. Portable classrooms may prove to be the best way to address the challenge posed by a growing student body. Since they take less time to build and deliver, depending on the urgency of the problem. Thanks to modern technology, it will take less than 10 weeks to develop and provide a portable classroom.

Portable Building with ramp and stairs

Rock Creek Elementary in Oregon

Different design options

Another excellent reason why portable classrooms are so famous is the numerous design options from which you can choose. It doesn’t matter if you are leasing or purchasing a portable classroom; there is always a style or pattern for you. You can get a turn-key classroom which is portable classrooms with furniture and fittings included to meet the need of your school. You can ask the manufacturer to customize your design just the way you want it. This includes HVAC systems, safety rails, ADA ramps, decks, and security systems where necessary. With portable classrooms, there is no end to design options.

Relatively affordable

Of course, all housing units are costly, but a portable classroom (though not always cheaper) is quite affordable and cost-effective, compared to traditional buildings. The amount you will spend for a portable classroom will largely depend on the level of customization you want. You can easily cut down on cost by purchasing or leasing an existing portable classroom, instead of going all out for a new one. If ever you’re worried about damaging the structures in transit, you have to put that aside. Portable classrooms are designed to be extremely sturdy, and a used one is a great way to save a ton on your budget.

Therefore, considering portable classrooms is a great idea. Plus they have great benefits in a growing community.

Linda Rawson is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.

Emergency Response and Disaster Recovery

Emergency Response and Disaster Recovery

First response

Media coverage

Whenever disaster strikes a city or community, its devastating effects dominate the news. Footage and images of properties damaged, distress of victims fills TV screens and airwaves. Sometimes the emergency can remain in the news for more than one or two weeks, which means a long-term coverage.

Evolution of emergency response and disaster recovery

Here is the history of preparing for and responding to natural or human-made disasters in the United States. It dates back to the time when the US was born as a nation, but the process started taking organizational shape in the 20th Century. Prior to this time, cases of disasters were handled “case by case,”. This is mostly backed by the Congressional Act providing different compensation to the victims who suffered from disasters. Examples of disasters that saw government emergency response were Portsmouth, NH Christmas Fire of 1808 and the very devastating Galveston Hurricane and Flood of 1990.

Pres. Jimmy Carters portrait

Pres. Jimmy Carter

After a series of government efforts to respond to the disasters, they saw the formation of different agencies. From the 1940s to 1970s, President Carter signed an executive order that merges all Federal Agencies. Those dealing with disaster preparedness and response issues were placed into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1979.

From that time till date, all disaster issues and emergency response are handled by FEMA.

Phases of Disaster Recovery and Emergency Response

Each disaster that happens is a unique occurrence that demands careful assessment. Bearing in mind that response and recovery may take time, it is critical to creating a strategic plan. These responses are aimed at identifying and helping the most vulnerable and severely affected people.

Although the stages of recovery don’t always follow a precise cut-out procedure, below are several phases that unfold. This is as affected communities start to rebuild their lives after disasters.

Critical Search and Rescue

Rescuers searching for survivors in rubble

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue is always the first disaster recovery phase that takes place after a disaster has struck. It usually requires a fast response which can last into hours or even days to save lives in imminent danger. After a few days, this phase traditionally elapsed to pave the way for providing support for survivors. An example is the search and rescue mission undertaken by FEMA after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

Prompt Emergency Relief

The second phase of the emergency response and disaster recovery is the provision of emergency relief. It begins immediately after the disaster has occurred and when search and rescue operations have come to a close. The emergency relief phase brings foods, water, clothing, medicine and shelter to surviving victims of the disaster. It gives prompt and serious medical attention to people with severe injuries.

Emergency relief can go on for a long time or may end abruptly. It depends on the nature and scope of damage caused by the disaster.

Quick or Early Recovery

When it comes to recovery, the population that is affected is in a better and stable condition. They have access to food and water and temporary shelter where they can cope with wind and rain. People start going about their daily activities. Children start going to school again, although classes may be held in tents or churches, etc. While the entire affected population may not have completely recovered, they have started adapting to a new way of living.

A lot of people being housed in a stadium after Hurricane Katrina disaster

Astrodome in Houston 2005. Housed 15,000 people

The early recovery phase can last for weeks, months or even some few years. This depends on the initial communities vulnerability, resources available and sense of adaptability.

Medium to long-term disaster recovery

This phase involves the construction of permanent physical structures that will replace tents, plywood shelters, and trailers. This is to mirror what used to be as they try to get back to normal. With the commencement of building permanent structures, the social foundation of community is being reinforced and strengthened. Adults now have the opportunity to improve their means of living and restore their family’s economies. Children can return to schools with permanent buildings as they build. The society is now beginning to feel stable and safe once again.

We are all first responders

Back in 2017, FEMA showed us that we are all first responders. “FEMA has a central role in both response and recovery efforts as the federal government’s coordinator of emergency management operations. But that role is often misunderstood, with FEMA being viewed as a first responder rather than an extension of state and local capabilities.” Don’t forget that as a community and individuals we can do our part.

Linda Rawson is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.

Women History Month: Mary Katherine Goddard

Women History Month: Mary Katherine Goddard

Women in History


A picture of Mary Katherine Goddard at the printing pressThere is none that can talk about the history of US postal services without mentioning the contribution of Mary Katherine Goddard. She is a woman of impeccable character and an exceptional track record as a printer, newspaper publisher, and a postmaster.

Life & work of Mary Katherine Goddard

Mary Katherine was born was born to the Goddard family in New London, Connecticut, on June 16, 1738. She lived most of her life in Baltimore, Maryland, from 1774 down to 1816 when she died at the age of seventy-eight.

Mary Katherine’s father died in 1762, prompting Mary and her mother to join up with her brother, William Goddard. He owned a printing shop in Providence, R.I. it was here that Mary and her mother started their careers as printers. Mary Katherine was involved in the publishing of the weekly Providence Gazette. This process continued until the end of 1768 when she later teams up with her brother’s printing office located in Philadelphia. It’s in Philadelphia that Mary Katherine published the Pennsylvania Chronicles. Although the publication usually appears in the name of her brother, it was Mary Katherine that manages the shop. It happened to be one of the largest in the entire colonies.

Example of the Providence Gazette

Providence Gazette

Together Mary Katherine’s professional life as a printer, publisher, and postmaster was bound with her brother, William. After they both worked together in Providence and Rhode Island, William started a new business in Baltimore in May 1773. It became Baltimore’s first newspaper, the Maryland Journal. Following the closure of the shop in Philadelphia in February 1774, Mary Katherine moved permanently to Baltimore. She then became the sole manager of the new plant and newspaper.

On May 10, 1175, the Maryland Journal officially recognized what has become a norm when that year’s issue read “Published by M.K Goddard.” Katherine proved to be a reliable, impersonal newspaper editor and was the only printer Baltimore had during the Revolution. January 1777 witnessed the publication of the first version of the Declaration of Independence to include all of the Congressional signatures—all from the printing press of Mary Katherine Goddard.

Respect Earned

Mary successfully managed the day-to-day operations in Baltimore. In 1775, she was named Baltimore’s postmaster because of her abilities and excellent track record. She was the first woman to have held such a post in the colonies. Also, the last to hold such a position after the declaration of independence. Mary Katherine continued as Baltimore’s postmaster for fourteen years until she was discharged against her will in October 1789. The excuse was that someone was needed to manage the southern department of the postal system. She was discharged because the authorities felt the responsibility involved much traveling which is not for a woman.

Over two hundred businessmen in Baltimore endorsed Mary and supported her petition to the Postmaster General to retain her position. This shows how much respect she had from others. Mary remained in Baltimore where she continued her operation between1809-1810. Then her bookshop started operating as a partner of the printing business.


Mary Katherine passed on in Baltimore at the age of seventy-eight, was buried in Saint Paul’s Parish graveyard. Mary received lots of tributes both from her brother and from letters written by eminent people like Thomas Jefferson and Ebenezer Hazard.

Linda Rawson is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.

The Evolution of the Spineboard

The Evolution of the Spineboard

The Spineboard

In the beginning

Before we can talk about the evolution of something, it is imperative we understand what that thing is all about. So what is a spineboard?

A spine board (or backboard) refers to a patient handling device used in pre-hospital trauma care, specifically to provide rigid movement for patients with suspected spinal limb injuries. They are very common with ambulance staffs, ski patrollers, and lifeguards.

Historical evolution of the spineboard

Centuries ago, early men used wood slabs with straps of sinew and leather to bind and secure an injured victim. The practice evolved a bit in 1979 when men started using slabs of woods together with straps of nylon webbing as a more advanced tool.  The majority of these boards were mostly manufactured of poorly sealed, inexpensive and incomplete plywood finish. Their unprofessional designs make them look bad when used, and considering their porous nature; they also absorbed fluids.

An advanced backboard

a wooden parr backboard

Bound Tree Parr

However, a little progress was made with the introduction of the Parr Backboard which featured quality Baltic Birchwood. The board has many great layers of sealants displaying impeccably over a baby-smooth sanding job. The Parr Backboard was a custom-made product with reinforced runners, lots of handholds and strap-pin locations. One of such board is a regional favorite in the Mid-Atlantic and is called the Henley Board from Maryland,–one that still maintains innovative and sturdy head immobilizer mechanism.

Enter the Plastic Backboard

Be that as it may, the advent of the dreaded HIV led to an increase in awareness among clinical experts and the need to control infection issues. From the increased sensitivity comes Plastic Backboards which quickly turn out to be the favorite material for backboards.

Some of the early and famously used synthetic plastic backboard was Ferno’s folding backboards which feature prominently in ambulances and were very reliable in performance. Today, the company (Ferno) is still a remarkable brand making waves with their plastic backboard, with different types and style of models in one catalog.

photo of an ambulance from 1975

1975 ambulance

Earliest Plastic backboards were either one-piece boards with acrylic runners or two-piece plastic. Some of these plastic boards use ABS plastic, which is a bit heavy. However, the real game-changing technology that emboldens plastic spineboards was the inclusion of rotational molding.

By using polyurethane-foam-filled high-density shells, these two parts were lightweight but sturdy and could withstand aggressive EMS use another popular two-part composite version incorporates fiberglass rods inside a hollow plastic board.

More advanced spineboard versions

The success recorded in two-part plastic spineboards led to the construction of a three-part version.  This uses molded hollow polyethene plastic laden with polyurethane foam with carbon plastic rods. The rods enable the structure to be stronger, but with time, the board could become flexible when the rods displace the foam inside the board.

Latest spineboard evolution

A picture of EZ LIFT backboard blue with blue straps

EZ LIFT Rescue Systems Backboard

The latest evolution involves the direct placement of the rods inside the molded plastic channels, allowing them to make contact with the plastic while the board appears well padded. This latest evolution allowing the rod to touch the plastic provides for a firm bonding as well as improving wear. The method is currently being used by most boards in the market.

Contour boards are another innovative development, featuring a concave surface which provides lateral stability and comfort. The EZ Lift Rescue System and the Kemp Lifeguard AB Spineboard are typical examples of highly reliable modern designs with unique features.

From the preceding, it is safe to say that the Backboard has evolved significantly over the past two thousand years, most especially for the past 20 years.

Linda Rawson is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.

What is a Silica Dust Situation?

What is a Silica Dust Situation?

What is silica dust? 

Silica is among the most common elements that occur naturally on the planet. The mineral is found in most materials common on construction sites.  This includes soil, sand, on concrete, rocks, granite, masonry, and landscaping materials. When these materials are disturbed, it will create the silica dust.  Types of disturbance can be, grinding, cutting or drilling.

Possible situation when silica dust occurs

an x-ray showing the lungs being affected with Silicosis

lungs with silicosis

The dust from materials can comprise of what is referred to as silica particles. Typically, materials containing crystalline dust particles are not harmful unless they are disturbed. When disturbed, the materials will generate small-size particles capable of getting into your lungs.  This is a process known as “respirable crystalline silica.” These dust particles are usually microscopic, smaller than the sand you’ll find on the bank of the sea. They are so tiny that you cannot see them. They are a significant cause of lung disease and lung cancer. Just a little amount of silica dust is powerful enough to cause a devastating health hazard.

Construction materials that contain silica

There are lots of construction materials out there that contain silica, and these include but not limited to bricks, cement, asphalt, drywall, mortar, grout, tile (including the ones mentioned above) and others.

What illness can result from a silica dust situation?

When crystalline silica is present in the air due to disturbance of materials bearing silica, people, especially workers at construction or mining sites become exposed to it through inhaling. When people inhaled crystalline silica particles, severe or sometimes, life-threatening illnesses can occur.  Tuberculosis, silicosis, lung cancer, and acute obstructive pulmonary disease can result from it.

Furthermore, exposure to silica dust has also been linked to other dangerous health situations such as renal disease, and other forms of fatal cancers. In 1996, the International Agency for Cancer research on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO) identified silica dust (crystalline silica) as a factor responsible for the human carcinogen. The WHO reaffirmed this position in 2009, demonstrating how dangerous silica dust and its crystalline particles can be.

Effects & realism of a silica dust situation

The unchanging position of the WHO regarding silica dust entails it is a significant health challenge. Even the American National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) also recognized the fact that workers at construction sites and other industries stand a higher risk of contracting silicosis.  Silicosis is a progressive disease that only gets worse, even exposure to respirable silica dust has stopped.

Studies have shown that the numbers of people living with silicosis in the United States are estimated to be between 3,600 to 7,600 affected cases. New cases of the silica infection occur every in the US, and their surveillance programs in operation in Michigan and New Jersey.

A man working with his protective gear

disposable gear to protect from Silica dust

To mitigate the spread of the silicosis, the NIOSH recommended that construction or such other industry workers should refrain from bringing silica to the home by:

  • Using washable or disposable working clothes at the work site
  • Take a shower (if possible) and change into new clothes to prevent contamination of cars, homes, or other work areas.
  • Park your vehicle where silica will not contaminate it.

Lastly, the OSHA recognizes the danger silica pose to employees.  Therefore set forth a recommendation through its regulation 29 CFR 1926.1153, directing construction employers to minimize workers exposures to silica. The permitted levels at or below Permittable Exposure Level of (PEL50 ug/m3).  While complying with other exposure control methods and guidelines.

Silica dust is hazardous, and it is best to prevent such situation from occurring by keeping to acceptable working and behavior patterns.

Linda Rawson is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.


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