Monday, September 20, 2021

September is National Preparedness Month - “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

 


September is National Preparedness Month, which serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and visit.

The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

For the first time in its history, the Ready Campaign, in partnership with the Ad Council, identified the Hispanic community as a key audience, and will launch a series of Public Service Advertisements specifically designed to encourage preparedness within the underserved demographic.

Weekly Themes

Each week in September, the campaign will focus on a different aspect of preparedness for individuals, families and communities.

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Week 1 September 1-4: Make A Plan

Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during, and after a disaster. Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the Coronavirus.

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Week 2 September 5-11: Build A Kit

Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in your home. Don’t forget to consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. Update your kits and supplies based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.

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Week 3 September 12-18: Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness

Natural disasters don’t wait for a convenient time. Preparing for them shouldn’t wait either. Start today by signing up for alerts, safe-guarding important documents, and taking other low cost and no cost preparedness actions to lessen the impact of disasters and emergencies for you and your family.

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Week 4 September 19-25: Teach Youth About Preparedness

Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved.

There are mobile apps from FEMA, the American Red Cross, and others all for emergency preparedness. Make sure you have emergency alerts setup on your phone as well and subscribe to alerts from your town and state. Also make sure you have charged battery packs to keep your phone powered during power outages. This article from Android Central has more tips on using your phone for emergency preparedness and response. 

Each household, business, and school should have an emergency plan, emergency kits and people trained in emergency preparedness and response.

I started my training in emergency preparedness while on my trail to Eagle ScoutEmergency Preparedness is a required merit badge and the Boy Scouts emphasize emergency preparedness among the scouts. I am a retired Paramedic, Special Operations Paramedic and FEMA trained in Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Management. I've responded to many disasters including 9/11 in NYC, hurricanes, blizzards, and mass casualty events and been incident command or staff at many of them.

Here are some of my favorite resources for learning about Emergency Preparedness.

Take time to learn lifesaving skills − such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornado's. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.



The devastating hurricanes and wildfires of the last few years reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters. Often, we will be the first ones in our communities to take action after a disaster strikes and before first responders arrive, so it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community.

It is important to consider three scenarios when planning for an emergency: 1) an escape route and meeting point if everyone is in the house; 2) what to do during a school day; and 3) how to handle an emergency during the weekend, when family members might be scattered.



The American Red Cross website also has information for creating an emergency plan and how to prepare for different emergencies. They also sell emergency kits (they are very good and a decent price). You can always make your own using their lists though. There is a full section on preparing schools and students. The Preparedness Fast Facts page is an excellent, one stop resource. They also have some great apps for both iOS and Android to help keep you informed and prepared - First Aid, Emergency (monitor conditions and find info ), Tornado, Earthquake, Pet First Aid, Hurricane, Flood and more. They also have kits and supplies. 

Although many people are familiar with the concept of developing a family plan for emergencies, most fail to take the time to sit down and actually come up with one. One great resource is the FEMA-sponsored website: http://www.ready.gov/. Check out their kids section too: http://www.ready.gov/kids

Schools need to be prepared themselves, as well as teach their staff and students how to be prepared. (more info for schools below)

Is your school district prepared for a natural disaster?



Emergency Management Institute Logo

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Emergency Management Insitute
The FEMA EMI offers free, online courses for anyone to take. The courses are well done and there are plenty of downloadable materials to help you. If you pass the test at the end, you even get a certificate.

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Here are a list of the courses that I think all educators should take: (I've taken these, and more)

IS-36 Multihazard Planning for Childcare
IS-100.c Introduction to the Incident Command System
IS-362.a Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools

Education Administrators should also be involved in community emergency planning because schools are on the top of the list as emergency shelters and field hospitals and the building administrators know their buildings.


Here is another great resource for schools from the US Dept of Ed - REMS - Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools. This site includes materials, resources and training (including free, on-site training) to help schools start assessing the safety, security, accessibility, and emergency preparedness of their  buildings and grounds.



REMS has an Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit to help schools build capacity in Emergency Management and Preparedness.


Ready.Gov also has Materials for Educators - Emergency preparedness curriculum for grades 1-12 that teach kids what to do before, during, and after an emergency while fostering critical 21st-century skills such as problem solving, teamwork, creativity, leadership, and communication.
Youth Emergency Preparedness Curriculum (4 PDFs)




American Medical Response, the EMS agency I worked for as a paramedic, also has some great resources for safety and preparedness, including bike safety, cold weather, hurricane, winter driving and much more.









Ready.gov is the US Government's web site for information and resources on emergency preparedness and response. There are resources for making a plan, an emergency kit, and how to stay informed. Information is included for individuals and businesses.



The Boy Scouts of America, who train all their Scouts and Adults in Emergency Preparedness, has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to provide resources for the public on getting prepared. The site has planning resources, how to make an emergency kit, and other resources.




CERT teams practice life saving skills

You can even join your local Community Emergency Response Team. These are teams of citizens that are specially trained to help out in major emergencies, sort of like the reserves. Find out more here. Here is a list of CERT's by State: http://www.citizencorps.gov/cc/CertIndex.do?submitByState


Emergency Preparedness is everyone's responsibility.  Share these resources with your students, colleagues, and family.


More Emergency Preparedness resources.







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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

September 11th, 20 Years Later. Never Forget. Take a moment. Do a good deed

 

September 11th, 20 Years Later. Never Forget. Take a moment. Do a good deed



I was in EMS for 22 years before retiring due to a back injury. One of my most memorable experiences was responding to New York City as a Paramedic in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I will never forget that experience. What I saw and did are still with me, as is a type of asthma from breathing the dust. My Experience as a Paramedic on 9-11-01

We lost over 3,000 American's that day, including 8 EMS Providers, 60 Police Officers and 343 Firefighters in NYC. Many EMTs and paramedics have died and continue to die each year since September 11, 2001 due to their exposure working at the site.

Since that day, over 400 FDNY Firefighters, EMS and other responders have died from 9/11 related illnesses, and hundreds of others are sick, including EMS, PD and civilians. There is a new area at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in NYC for these individuals who are sick. 

As time passes, people seem to forget what happened and the toll it has taken. We need to make sure we never forget and educate our children about what happened. Talk to them about it, tell them how you felt and what the experience was. Take them to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in NYC. It is an amazing, somber experience going there. My 8 year old daughter has been to ground zero and the park, but not into the museum. That will come later.

I still vividly remember where I was (engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft) when it happened, responding down there as a paramedic, the sights, the smells, the people. I was at Ground Zero for the last part of my shift down there on 9/12. It was sobering to see the pile, knowing there were people in there.

As the years have gone by, we have lost first responders to 9/11 related diseases, many struggle with PTSD or other medical issues. The current generation doesn't know this as anything but history. The worst part for many of us was not being able to save people and the many days and weeks hoping against all odds that we would find people alive.

I went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC in 2012. It was an amazing, heartbreaking experience. I recommend that every American go there and see it, remember those who were lost, and pray something like this never happens again.

9/11 still haunts me to this day, as it does most of us who responded. But we persevere and move on, not letting the terrorists win.

The anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has become a very important National Day of Service and Remembrance in America, known as “9/11 Day”.

9/11 Day is a time when Americans are asked to join together in unity, remember those lost on 9/11, and if possible, perform good deeds or other acts of service as a positive tribute to the 9/11 victims, as well as first responders and military personnel who rose in service in response to the terrorist attacks.

This year, the organizers of 9/11 Day are asking all of us to participate virtually through a special program called “Take a moment. Do a good deed”, There is no cost or required donation involved. The goal is to inspire one million acts of kindness that participants are able to do from home.



Here’s how:

Visit www.911day.org.

20 years after 9/11, we’re remembering the outreach, love and support that emerged in response to the tragedy. Let’s keep that togetherness alive. Join us in turning 9/11 into a global day of doing good.

They also have Toolkits and Lesson Plans around 9/11 and #911day. 

So please share a message of support for 9/11 Day, about your deed, using #911day

Nothing could be more important right now than joining together in unity and to pay tribute by helping those most in need. Never forget what we are capable of doing together. Thank you!


I'm also very proud that my company, CDW, is a sponsor of 911day and supports the military, first responders, and all affected by 9/11.