Just a few days ago, President Obama proclaimed September 2013 as National Preparedness Month. The National Preparedness Goal, highlighted during September, was officially announced in 2011, and remains the same today:
“A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”
The goal aims to address risks including natural disasters, disease pandemics, chemical spills, terrorist attacks, and cyber-attacks. To achieve the goal, FEMA calls for the whole community approach where responsibility is shared. Whole community refers to individuals, families, businesses, faith-based and community entities, nonprofits, schools, media, and all levels of government. Basically, everyone – hence, the WHOLE community verbiage. Not only does it mean we all share responsibility for preparing and reacting, but the community should also be involved in the development of preparedness documents to ensure the content accurately reflects roles and responsibilities.
So what do we do? How do we get involved? The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services suggests taking a First Aid or CPR class, joining a service organization, creating a plan or emergency kit, or adding preparedness apps to our phones. We have apps for weather, email, and crushing candy, so why not an emergency app as well? In addition, the CDC suggests four steps: Get a kit, Make a plan, Be informed, and Get involved.
Because schools are communities within themselves, taking a whole community approach within the school walls may prove beneficial. All staff, teachers, administration, and students can share the responsibility of ensuring safety and limiting risks. Particularly when on-campus violence is at hand, preparation is key to knowing how to respond and limiting injury as much as possible. Adults and students are both a part of that process, and each must know their role. Educating students in age-appropriate preparedness activities may help them outside of school as well. It’s possible they will take those lessons home with them and encourage preparedness participation there.
Regardless of the approach we each take, we’re all responsible for being a part of the solution. We’re all responsible for getting involved. Together is the only way our schools, communities, and nation can be adequately prepared against unwelcome, unpredictable, and devastating threats.
What are you doing at your school to prepare? Share and help spark ideas for others!
- FEMA: Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: National Preparedness Month Resources
- Ready Kids: Tools for Educators
- U.S. Department of Education: Lead & Manage My School – Emergency Planning & Practical Information on Crisis Planning Brochure
- CDC: Preparedness for All Hazards
- FEMA: Family Ready