Small northeastern town thinks big in regard to disaster survival
Early this month, Wareham, Massachusetts set a good example for towns and cities across the country by holding a thorough, well-planned, and well-executed public forum on emergency preparedness. I recommend fostering the citizen-professional connection as a crucial first step in individual and family survival readiness. Even before investing in advanced home emergency kits, it’s wise to look at the bigger picture, and that includes local, state, and federal resources.
That’s why the forum in Wareham included representatives from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross and AmeriCorps, Onset Village (MA) Fire Department, Plymouth County Public Health, Southcoast Hospitals Group, Wareham Fire Department, Wareham Emergency Management Services, and Wareham Public Schools.
This list can serve as a guide to the types of organizations in your own community which provide guidance in planning and preparation and, of course, assistance during and after the actual disaster event. If your municipality hasn’t had a forum like this recently, I highly recommend calling your local emergency management services office and asking about getting one organized and scheduled. If they’re already working on one, great, perhaps ask how you can assist, if you’re so inclined.
The discussions during the forum included plans and capabilities in response to a variety of catastrophe types “including, but not limited to, hurricanes, fires, blizzards, chemical spills, and nuclear fuel/waste spills,” according to an article in the Wareham Courier. Nuclear fuel and wastewater concerns, in particular, have grown in recent years, as many power plants become too old to operate safely.
The township also runs an emergency notification service called CodeRed to which residents can subscribe via text message, phone call, or email. The system alerts subscribers to “local events that may immediately impact [their] safety.” As well as periodic preparedness tips, the system provides information on everything from emergency evacuations to criminal activity to boil-water advisories. This can be an invaluable resource for your community, too, and it’s well worth looking into.
A town of approximately 22,000, Wareham bears the nickname “Gateway to Cape Cod” and is also known as the hometown of Hollywood actors Geena Davis and Skipp Sudduth. The stars of the forum, though, were the first responders and other expert presenters.
The organizations involved in the 75-minute forum didn’t mince words about the importance of preparation on the household level, too. The representative from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said, “Our best advice is to be prepared yourself and to do everything necessary to plan for an emergency and to be able to survive it.”
Starting with the big picture for your community and working down to the smallest helpful detail in your own home ensures that you’re doing everything possible to keep yourself, your family, and your neighborhood as safe as possible in any eventuality.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about the many human mistakes which, in a heartbeat, can cause a catastrophe that threatens the very existence of mankind.