Throughout National Preparedness Month many communities’ preparedness plans have been tested. Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and drought are just some of the threats faced this month. Although preparedness is highlighted during the month of September, recent events reinforce the need for preparedness to be a year-round effort – especially during months when daily operations are not being overshadowed by catastrophe, and agencies and organizations are not being tested in full public view.
For years, emergency preparedness professionals have been preaching the message, “Have a Kit, Make a Plan.” As a result, everyone is now ready for the next disaster … of course not. In its latest survey, DomPrep explored levels of preparedness, reasons why people do not plan, as well as possible solutions to reach those who have not yet bought in to the traditional messaging efforts.
In fall 2013, the Littleton Public Schools District (Colorado), with great support from the community, passed an $80 million bond election for capital improvements within the school district. Immediately following the bond election, the Littleton Public Schools Security Department personnel began planning to implement their portion of the bond funds, which was about $7.5 million. Its security team’s journey toward security technology and infrastructure is a good example for other school systems
No two disasters are the same. Yet it is not unusual for officials to be confronted with a common critical public safety decision: whether to evacuate the public or advise them to shelter in place. This crucial decision, which is normally time sensitive, can set the tone for the remainder of the response and recovery phases.
A chemical spill, nuclear attack, biological agent, pandemic, hurricane, and numerous other threats and hazards have the potential to kill enough people to overwhelm any particular jurisdiction. Whether that number is 10 or 10,000 or more, the “unthinkable” can happen anywhere. On 16 June 2017, DomPrep hosted a panel discussion on this topic at the International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The key takeaways from that session are summarized here.
Hurricane Harvey has caused widespread destruction, and its aftermath continues to pose a significant threat to life and safety. In this and other large-scale incidents, the exact number of people affected is hard to determine because of the complex physical and social networks that exist within and between jurisdictional boundaries. Knowing how to manage the lives lost and the lives affected is a challenge. However, when preparing for a catastrophic event, it is important to remember that even one lost life can have devastating effects on a community.
On 27 August 2017, DomPrep and the Preparedness Leadership Council lost a long-time friend and the nation lost a highly revered icon of domestic preparedness and homeland security. Major General (Ret.) Timothy J. Lowenberg (Washington National Guard) was above all a public servant who sought to protect the lives and safety of all Americans. His knowledge and dedication were the tools that made him an effective advocate for homeland security issues.
A mass casualty incident leaves many victims in its wake. Beyond those who are tragically killed, survivors also suffer from the physical and psychological effects of the incident. Unfortunately, the psychologically injured can sometimes go unnoticed. One survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 recounts her story of survival and her journey back to recovery.
Imagine a family losing their home, their belongings – everything. With nowhere to go, they find the nearest shelter, only to be turned away due to shelter restrictions. Maybe it was because they have a dog, or one of their children has a disability, or they have an elderly parent with them. Regardless of the reason, they are turned away. When planning for a community, that should never happen.
Each year, experienced emergency management and first responder personnel are retiring from their careers, and retiring the vital skills that they spent their lifetimes learning. As the next generation of young adults moves into these fields, it is critical for the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the previous generations to be passed on through education, training, and mentorships. Some organizations are leading this effort with youth programs that strive to attract new interest in emergency preparedness and response.