Maybe it was growing up in Nebraska with tornadoes as part of our springtime ritual. Maybe it was time spent in Boy Scouts and Civil Air Patrol. Perhaps it was coming of age in the shadow of SAC headquarters, knowing there was a big red “X” on some Soviet targeting map. Whatever the reason, we have always planned for the day when something wicked our way came. Seems there is a kindred spirit out there too:
Disaster is bearing down on all sides of late. A ravaging cyclone in Burma. A killer earthquake in China. Even the United States hasn’t escaped unscathed, with tornadoes ripping across the heartland and Southeast and floods rising in the mid-Atlantic.
Still, most Americans have been watching the devastation in Asi
a from relative safety and, if I had to guess, with a certain sense of complacency, a feeling that disaster on that scale isn’t likely to happen to them. But it could. And if it did, our country might face the same sort of crisis as our Asian cousins. A major reason: The American public isn’t prepared.
Even after Sept. 11, 2001, even after Hurricane Katrina, a Red Cross survey last year found that 93 percent of Americans aren’t prepared for a major calamity — a natural disaster, a pandemic or a terrorist attack. This is troubling, because the more prepared a population is, the more effective the response to and recovery from a catastrophe will be.
Preparation (and we don’t mean the last minute panic buying that seems to go down at every grocery and hardware store as a storm bears down on the populace) is vitally important, even more so in this post-9/11 world. Have a family emergency plan handy? No?…
1. Make public preparedness a priority, or it won’t happen. Last year, Foresman asked a ballroom full of state first responders how many of them had made a family emergency plan. Of 300 people, nine raised their hands. If many of the folks promoting civilian preparedness aren’t following their own advice, it’s no wonder that the rest of us aren’t, either. “It needs to be a national imperative,” says Joseph F. Bruno, New York City’s emergency management commissioner.
2. Make preparedness part of 21st-century citizenship. Being prepared may be the most significant contribution many citizens can make to their nation’s security. Not only are civilians likely to be the first first responders at any disaster scene, but the nation’s response will also be only as strong as that of the weakest link. And a new commitment to public preparedness would give the country a nonpartisan, substantive way of re-tapping the reservoir of post-9/11 goodwill. “We don’t ask enough of people,” says one city emergency manager. “Everyone asks me, ‘How are you going to take care of us in a disaster?’ You have a big role in taking care of you.”
Read the rest of the article here. If you’ve never been caught up in a major event – well, count your blessings. It certainly doesn’t have to be of nature’s making either as those who found themselves caught-up in an impromptu evacuation of DC and New York found out one autumn day.
BTW, we’ve added the link to the author’s blog, “In Case of Emergency, Read Blog” over in the blogroll.
Gotta say it – the Boy Scouts have it right. Be Prepared…