Emergency Preparation – Part 1

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

A bombing and citywide lockdown in Boston, a chemical explosion in West, Texas; threats of flooding along the Mississippi River; tornadoes; earthquakes; and the all-too-frequent house fire.

These are a few of the disasters we all need to prepare for. We need to get ready at home with our families, at work, at our places of worship and at the nonprofits where we spend our time. Most emergencies come with little warning. Many are unthinkable. Some are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Others – such as fires – occur every day. How will you get ready?

We recently talked with Dr. Jan Young, executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis Inc., and a major general in the Air National Guard (retired). Under her leadership the foundation has supported the growth of Ready Shelby, a local initiative that brings together our municipal governments, local nonprofits, concerned residents, faith leaders and businesses. Dr. Young has witnessed recovery efforts around the globe and knows first-hand that suffering and loss of life can be reduced through preparation.

“People respond with such generosity after a disaster,” she said. “But we really need to invest in preparation. Emergency and disaster preparation saves lives.”

What will you do during the first 72 hours of a disaster when the likelihood of “help” arriving is low? As a community, how will we check on elderly and disabled people living in nursing homes, or home alone? What about the small children in pre-school programs? What will happen to people with chronic diseases who run out of medicine?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and our local governments deal with these issues on the macro level. Here in Shelby County places of worship are getting ready through the Ready Faithful program. At home it’s up to you and your family. Here is a short list of live saving actions: 1) Create a family communication plan; 2) Know the safe place at home, work, school, and place of worship; 3) Build an emergency/disaster response kit; 4) Learn compression-only CPR; and 5) Take Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. You can learn more about these at www.readyshelby.org. The site has easy-to-use check lists and suggestions.

The Red Cross teaches “compression-only CPR” which is a way to save a life with using only your two hands. CERT training is available through local municipalities here and across the state. It includes training in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. With CERT training you can play a critical role during emergencies when professional responders are not available.

“It won’t happen to me” is a common response. But it doesn’t have to be yours. Get ready!

Next week: continuity plans for nonprofits.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “The Fundraisers Guide to Soliciting Gifts” now available at Amazon.com.