September is National Preparedness Month
Unfortunately, Sept. 11, 2001, changed our lives forever across this nation in terms of feeling safe, prepared and in control. Since that time, airports, destination points and life in general has become much more directed in what we are required to do in the workplace and in travel. However, what we have not dealt with adequately is personal responsibility as it relates to our families and loved ones.
Therefore, in West Virginia, we have become a National Preparedness Month Coalition member. As the national spokesperson for SafeAmerica Foundation, I am encouraging all of our citizens to get involved in promoting public disaster preparedness practices. Everyone must play a part because everyone is affected during a time of national or natural disasters.
One of the lessons learned from 9/11 was how quickly the “lines” in our country shut down due to the multitude of people trying to connect with loved ones to check on “where they were” and “were they safe.” In addition, emergency responders were hampered by the congested lines. What we do know now is that 800 text messages can be sent in the same space as a one-minute cell-phone call. Therefore, one prime objective of our “Drill down for Safety” measures is to encourage individuals to plan and to practice a “text drill” with family and friends.
The emphasis on “TEXT DON’T TALK” is an excellent opportunity for young people to teach parents, grandparents and neighbors, who are unfamiliar with this technology, to text rather than attempt a call during an emergency. I will be heading up a text messaging drill at one of our largest in-state sporting events – the WVU vs. MU football game at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington this evening. Everyone at the game will see my Public Service Announcement on the scoreboard during the game asking them to send a practice text to a specified number at the same time.
In addition, the governor and I, as well as the director of our state homeland security division, will also be having a press conference today to promote 9/11 Drill Down for Safety. The partnerships in this campaign extend across West Virginia: Verizon, Volunteer West Virginia, the Business Volunteer Council, West Virginia Citizen Corps, Military Affairs and Public Safety and West Virginia Health Science Education all working together to inform individuals of all ages to be informed, prepared and involved.
Being able to connect with those we love is a top priority during any disaster regardless of where or when it happens. Being assured that we can get a message through without curtailing the efforts of emergency responders should and must be our top goal not only in West Virginia, but across America.
Next year marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and it is the hope of SafeAmerica Foundation that more than one million people will conduct “practice text drills” on what they would do in an emergency. Please join me in promoting West Virginia Preparedness at all times in the Mountain State.