2013-09-20 / Front Page

Be prepared if disaster strikes

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Vincent Pacchiana, the Fort Gordon emergency manager, shares literature and discusses preparedness ideas Tuesday afternoon in the Commissary with military spouse Ronoda Taylor, and her 14-month-old son, Jaiovon. 
Photo by Bill Bengston/Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Vincent Pacchiana, the Fort Gordon emergency manager, shares literature and discusses preparedness ideas Tuesday afternoon in the Commissary with military spouse Ronoda Taylor, and her 14-month-old son, Jaiovon. Photo by Bill Bengston/Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office September is National Preparedness Month. The need to be prepared is evident with fires and flooding in the western region of America.

Unexpected dangers and events can happen anywhere and at any time. It’s best to be prepared well in advance of a natural disaster or man-made hazard.

National Preparedness Month began in 2004 to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and has since become a nation-wide effort to improve preparedness in America. This year’s National Preparedness Month theme, “You Can be the Hero,” asks all American to ready themselves to assist in case of an emergency.

President Barack Obama signed a presidential proclamation Aug. 30 encouraging everyone to be prepared. “While my administration is working tirelessly to avert national tragedies, it is every American’s responsibility to be prepared,” Obama wrote.

This year the Army joined the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in their “America’s Prepareathon” campaign. It’s a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and community resilience.

Its purpose is to educate, inform and involve the Army community in preparedness activities to increase Army resiliency and our Nation’s readiness for all-hazards events.

Vincent A. Pacchiana, the Fort Gordon Emergency manager, who is also a certified Georgia Emergency manager, wants to help. “My goal is to inform and educate as many people as possible on the importance of being prepared for an emergency,” Vincent Pacchiana said. “Preparedness is critical to life, health and safety during an emergency. There are four aspects of preparedness: make a plan, build a kit, be informed and get involved.”

Pacchiana plans to be out in the community throughout the month to make sure members of the Fort Gordon community are informed on how to deal with disasters and hazards. He plans to set up an information booth to provide information on the four aspects of preparedness from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Main Post Exchange.

An information booth will be set up in the lobby of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center Sept. 23-26.

Individuals living in post housing area are invited to attend a “Home Evacuation Planning” presentation at 5 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Balfour Beatty Communities Corner, located at 155 Third Avenue on the installation. Learn how to develop an evacuation plan and route for your family in case of an emergency.

Pacchiana spoke to the mayors in the Fort Gordon family housing area Thursday about preparing a family emergency plan and kit.

The best time to prepare for a disaster is before it happens. There is plenty of online help that makes it easier than people think to get their family ready for any type of emergency. Many of the websites offer fill in the blank forms individuals can print off, complete and distribute to their family. Many websites offer instructions in English as well as several other languages to make the information available to everyone.

A sample family emergency plan can be found at ready.gov.

“ There are multiple websites to purchase premade emergency kits, but they are very costly,” explained Pacchiana. “My recommendation is for people to develop a personalized kit based on their own needs and by using the suggested items at Ready Georgia [ready. ga.gov] or the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA.gov] websites.”

The American Red Cross offers several free mobile apps to download during the entire month. There’s an app which offers information on first aid, on preparing for a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake and a shelter finder. Families can visit www.redcross.org to use the “Make a Plan” featured in the apps to create their emergency plans and then share it with their families and out of town relatives.

“We have plans in place that are being updated and evaluated frequently and a very competent, professional, and experienced staff to help you keep your family safe,” Pacchiana said. “The main thing to keep in mind is that you must be prepared and when instructed or directed to evacuate, you need to do it. Don’t be a hero.”

Online Emergency Preparedness Sources:

• Ready Army – www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/

• Army Hurricane Relief Efforts - www.army.mil/humanitarian/ hurricanes.php

• Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System – https://adpaas.army.mil

• Army Knowledge Online Emergency Management Home Page – www.us.army.mil/suite/page/560246

• American Red Cross - www.redcross.org/

• FEMA’s National Hurricane Program – www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/nhp/index.shtm

• FEMA’s Ready Campaign – www.ready.gov/

• National Hurricane Center – www.nhc.noaa.gov/

• National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration – www.noaa.gov/

• National Poison Control Center – 1-800-222-1222 – open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

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