No agency, or person, is ever fully prepared when disaster strikes. Your organization may be more, or less, prepared than others, but it will never be fully prepared because no two disasters are alike, and most come without warning.
That said, we write disaster management plans, run simulations and drills to be as prepared as possible. After all, the better trained an agency is to respond to a disaster, the less likely it is to be caught off guard.
September is National Preparedness Month, and this year the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with The Advertising Council, is presenting its Ready public service advertising (PSA) campaign with one clear message: “You never know when the day before is the day before.”
Only 60% of Americans say it’s very important to them to prepare for natural or man-made disasters, and just 17% claim to be very prepared for an emergency situation. FEMA recognizes the need to increase awareness about the importance of being prepared. Ready.gov provides information on what to do before, during and after an emergency; how to plan for emergencies and build an emergency kit; and how to get involved across the nation to support community preparedness.
EMS agencies should strongly consider incorporating some of these resources into their community preparedness campaigns, as well as their own disaster management plans. Because agencies are busy with their own efforts responding to emergencies and protecting their communities every day, FEMA has done a lot of the legwork to bring people up to speed quickly on how to prepare for, and respond to, a variety of emergencies, including natural disasters, pandemic, home fires, technological and accidental hazards, and terrorist attacks. There are resources for populations requiring specific considerations, such as people with special needs, infants and children, seniors, and even animals, as well as a straightforward list of “basic” supplies to include in a disaster kit and tips on how to maintain kits and where to store them so they’re accessible during an emergency. There are even resources for businesses and kids.
Among the helpful tools found on Ready.gov are instructional videos, and Ready campaign PSAs can be viewed and downloaded at www.Ready.gov/psa. These short, informative videos can easily be shared in your communities and include American Sign Language and closed captioning, as well as a Spanish version.
FEMA also offers text message updates during emergencies, which community members can sign up to receive. More information can be found at www.ready.gov/get-tech-ready.
Finally, consider sharing EMS World’s latest Community Health Watch column with your local media. These columns are free for you to use and brand as you wish to help keep your communities informed and safe.