Afraid or Ready ??

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What is emergency management? To simplify it, it is the doctrine of Prepare local government,  businesses, schools, and homes to be self sufficient for  as long as possible once a disaster occurs. (Years ago, some suggested 3 days would be enough, recent calamities have proven this to be not enough and the new base line is 7 days.) This importance of personal preparedness was re-emphasized after 9/11 by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge when he said, “We can be afraid or we can be ready”. Emergency Management is the policy commitment of being “ready”.

Our 24/7 connected world includes a host of risks like floods, earthquakes, terrorism, tsunami’s (just to name a few), that threaten to devastate individuals, businesses and communities. All agreed that after a major disaster, it could be days before outside help arrives. 

Today, more than ever before, emergency preparedness matters. We live in a fast-moving interdependent world. When it comes to the basics of life, we look to others to provide our needs of gasoline, food, medical care, water. We are surprised if a gas shortage causes stations to run out of gas. When we turn on the water faucet, it never occurs to us that we don’t get anything but clean water. In almost every community, there are 24-hour grocery stores and drug stores we can rely on in the middle of the night.

The emergency management community has known and preached a clear message for more than three decades: Preparedness is a personal responsibility. It takes time and money to prepare, and the money spent may never really be needed. But in a disaster, investments in preparedness will return dividends a thousand-fold. It is not much different than the proverb of the grasshopper and the ant. The ant prepared for “hard times”, while his friend the grasshopper felt he had more pressing priorities. We can not invest our time/ resources and be afraid; or we can do the opposite and be ready.