Get Involved. Be a Part of Something Larger.
By Mary Wade Triplett
As September’s National Threat Preparedness Month draws to a close, it’s time to go over the last aspect that the Ready Campaign emphasizes: “Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger.”
Now we can take what we’ve learned out into the community at large, whether that is a college campus, your office or place of business or your church or house of worship. The Ready Campaign’s website has a lot of good advice and step-by-step plans on how you can accomplish those goals.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security even offers specific programs for, say, college campuses: The National Seminar and Tabletop Exercise Series for Institutions of Higher Learning, or NTTX, which meets in different locations to go over a drill with attendees. And there are items you can check off a list at your campus: Make sure your school has emergency procedures in place. Sign up to receive alerts from your school in case of an emergency, such as an active shooter or a natural disaster. Know how to get in touch with family and friends if phones are down, maybe by texting instead.
You also mark yourself safe on social media and at this Red Cross website, safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
And how about your workplace? Businesses can do much to prepare for the impact of the many hazards they face in today’s world, including natural hazards like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and widespread serious illnesses such as the H1N1 flu virus pandemic.
Workers can form a committee whose members can examine risks and hazards and ways to reduce them, as well as create a plan to react to an emergency. The plan can even be tested and evaluated. According to FEMA, up to 40 percent of businesses do not recover after experiencing a major disaster.
As for houses of worship, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers advice on ways to protect them in case of an unexpected occurrence, such as an active shooter, which unfortunately draws on headlines of recent events, including just this past weekend in a Nashville suburb. People who are interested in this training can go to fema.gov/faith-resources to learn more. That web page will lead to a 45-minute interactive, online training video that can be taken not only by congregants with active shooter concerns, but by all citizens who frequent locations such as workplaces and school campuses who potentially could be confronted with this situation.
The site also offers courses and advice to prepare for other types of disasters, such as fires at a house of worship.
Finally, there is a local course you can take that can teach you how to respond in a disaster. The Monongalia County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) teaches classes periodically through the Monongalia County Health Department. The course educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. To learn more about Monongalia County CERT, check out certmonongaliawv.weebly.com or call the health department at 304-598-5100 for more information.
It’s not fun to think about the unexpected happening. But in this day and age, we know it’s the right thing to do, and being prepared could make all the difference. You can’t necessarily prevent a potentially dangerous event from happening, but you can get ready for how you deal with it.