A time to remember and prepare

Published 8:18 pm Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dear editor,

This year’s National Preparedness Month campaign theme, “A Time to Remember: A Time to Prepare,” seeks to transform awareness into action by encouraging all Americans to take necessary steps to ensure that their homes, workplaces and communities are prepared for disasters and emergencies.

It is events like Sept. 11, 2001 and even more recent events like April 27, 2011 that make everyone step back to remember. However, the latter of the campaign theme, “A Time to Prepare” often slips through the cracks along the way, allowing complacency to become a disaster within itself.

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National Preparedness Month is supported by a coalition of public, private and nonprofit organizations that help spread the preparedness message.

By hosting events, promoting volunteer programs and sharing emergency preparedness information, agencies help ensure that their communities are prepared for emergencies.

One person cannot make a difference in a disaster. Preparedness is a shared responsibility. The whole community – individuals, businesses, community organizations, faith-based groups and state, local governments should focus this month on preparing for disasters and emergencies. Each of us have an obligation to our citizens to do the best job we can to ensure we learn lessons and apply those lessons to effectively mitigate against disasters.

When disasters occur at the National level, State level and especially at the local level, we have to be prepared to respond and even more critical to recover.

Many of our local emergency responders have responded to assist with disasters at every level; they are on the front lines. These responders are skilled, trained, professionals who are programmed to put their lives on the line, whatever the cost. Disasters move everyone from their comfort zones.

Disasters are unpredictable. However, for citizens, responders and officials to sit back today and just “remember” without realizing that 75 miles on April 27, 2011 could have tragically impacted our city/county is complacency.

While remembering is necessary…not preparing is carelessness, on everyone’s part.

Local responders will recognize National Preparedness Month with two events scheduled to bring our community together.

1) The Dallas County Emergency Management Agency and the Selma-Dallas County Citizen Corps Council will team up with the Selma Police Department and Selma Fire on September 21, 2011 from to host its Fifth Annual BE READY DAY from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Block Park. Local schools will bus children to meet emergency responders, view equipment and enjoy a day learning important preparedness from local agencies.

The day will offer a blood drive and will provide responders an opportunity to view state and regional equipment which is available locally, upon request. Alongside the festivities at Block Park, the Alabama Department of Public Health will be sponsoring a drive-thru flu vaccination clinic beginning Friday.

The Dallas County Emergency Management Agency and the Selma-Dallas County Citizen Corps Council will sponsor a community forum Tuesday, Oct. 4 beginning at 5p.m. at the Selma Convention Center which will provide an opportunity for elected officials and first responders to hear valuable “Lessons Learned” through the destructive events following the April 27 tornadoes.

Former Dallas County EMA Director, Brett Howard will speak regarding the necessity for government/responders to unify in critical preparedness across the board. This forum will be open to the public.

While National Preparedness Month is held each September the education for preparedness and response to all types of emergencies occur year round including natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Preparing can start with three important steps:

1. Get an emergency supply kit. Plan this kit to allow yourself to be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours, at minimum.

2. Make a plan for what to do in an emergency.

3. Be informed about emergencies that could happen in your community and identify sources of information in your community that will be helpful before the disaster.

I encourage all citizens of Dallas County to come out and support local efforts during National Preparedness Month, meet your responders, ask questions and learn how to better prepare yourself effectively for disasters. YESTERDAY was to REMEMBER…..TODAY is to PREPARE!

Rhonda Abbott,

Dallas County Emergency Management Agency