National Security

National Emergency Preparedness Month: Week 2

To promote this year’s National Emergency Preparedness Month efforts, FEMA is encouraging participants to hold an event on Friday, September 15 in honor of National Prepareathon Day.

Week 2 of National Emergency Preparedness Month focuses on building a plan for neighborhoods and communities.

When faced with a natural disaster, many rely on the help and support of their neighbors. In an emergency, first responders receive a lot of calls. Planning to help others allows all citizens to step up in times of crisis until help arrives.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has created Until Help Arrives training, available online to prepare citizens to provide aid in emergencies until professionals are on scene. The training consists of interactive videos, online training, and an instructor guide for in-person training. Participants are able to earn a certificate of completion.

FEMA recognizes the importance of neighbors and communities in emergency response. They estimate that “forty-six percent of individuals expect to rely a great deal on people in their neighborhood for assistance within the first 72 hours after a disaster.” Being prepared includes having a plan to check on neighbors and provide needed assistance.

FEMA’s Neighbor Helping Neighbor approach is designed to be complementary to local, state, and federal aid organizations as well as non-profit support. Providing training and opportunities to community involvement allows these agencies to work effectively.

The Independent Study 909 Course offered by FEMA supports preparedness efforts ahead of disasters. It covers how individuals and households can support emergency preparedness, create a community preparedness program, and respond to crisis. Ideally, the audience would include local-level responders, including faith-based organizations and nonprofit leaders.

One question that arises after a crisis is how citizens can financially support recovery efforts. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster connects interested parties with local and national organizations that are actively seeking donations or volunteers. The National VOAD includes “over 50 of the country’s most reputable national organizations” to ensure that donations of money, goods, and time are used effectively.

FEMA also includes a Community Preparedness Toolkit, which “provides step-by-step directions along with useful resources for making your community safer, more resilient, and better prepared.” They encourage communities to create Citizen Corps Councils as part of a grassroots movement. Citizen Corps Councils embrace the responsibility of individual citizens to be able to respond to emergency situations. This includes knowing basic first aid, how to operate emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, and being familiar with community emergency response plans.

FEMA recognizes the importance of neighbors and communities in emergency response. They estimate that “forty-six percent of individuals expect to rely a great deal on people in their neighborhood for assistance within the first 72 hours after a disaster.”

FEMA recommends breaking down preparedness efforts to the following steps:

Step 1: Identify local partners, including volunteer emergency responders and professional first responders

Step 2: Build a Team, such as the Citizen Corps Council

Step 3: Set goals that are concrete

Step 4: Serve your community

Step 5: Celebrate success by keeping track and sharing

The Ready Campaign was started in 2003 with the goal of “promoting preparedness through public involvement.” To promote this year’s National Emergency Preparedness Month efforts, FEMA is encouraging participants to hold an event on Friday, September 15 in honor of National Prepareathon Day.

Visit www.ready.gov to find tips and resources to help you make the most of National Emergency Preparedness Month. Join in the conversation on social media by sharing your emergency preparedness tips using the hashtags #NatlPrep and #PlanAhead.

Katie Begley

Katie Begley is an OpsLens Contributor, US Naval Academy graduate and former Surface Warfare Officer. In addition to being a military spouse, she is a freelance writer specializing in travel, education, and parenting subjects. Katie has worked in numerous communications roles for volunteer organizations and professionally for a local parenting magazine.

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