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Be disaster aware, take action to prepare

  • Published
  • By John Burt
  • AFCEC Public Affairs
Devastating earthquakes, floods, wildfires and tornadoes never announce a time or place - that's why it's important to be prepared! Air Force Emergency Management is using National Preparedness Month this September to encourage Airmen and their families to "Be Ready!"

National Preparedness Month is an annual campaign started by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security in the year following 9/11. The goals are to raise awareness of the importance of personal preparedness and to increase the number of people who are prepared for emergencies. This year's theme is "Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare."

"A disaster can be in many forms depending on where we live," said David Epstein, EM policy chief for the Air Force. "From a tornado that affects a community in the Midwest, to an earthquake that affects the entire West Coast, preparedness is what will get us through it."

"Emergency awareness and preparedness is every individual's responsibility," said Mike Connors, the Air Force Emergency Manager and head of the emergency management division at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. "The better prepared you are, the more likely you'll be able to save a life, possibly even a family member's or your own. Recurring events like National Preparedness Month help keep that in the forefront of people's minds."

AFCEC's emergency management division manages the Air Force's "Be Ready" awareness campaign, a year-round push that provides a comprehensive set of resources covering all potential emergency situations. Materials outline what to know and do before, during and after natural or man-made disasters and are available on the "Be Ready" website as well as through each installation's office of emergency management.

"Be Ready" now offers a series of short video vignettes on specific threats from natural disasters to man-made incidents and the best way to respond to them. One recent addition is a three-minute video on active-shooter incidents. The video was produced in close collaboration between AFCEC and the Air Force Security Forces Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

"It helps us better educate base populace on what to do if an active-shooter situation happens at in a workplace or other public venue," said Master Sgt. Michael Ellis, active shooter response course manager at AFSFC. "It not only depicts actions to take during an incident, but what to do once first responders are on the scene."

The readiness campaign also features the Air Force "Be Ready" mobile app, or application, an on-the-go emergency preparation resource. Available for Motorola Android devices as well as Apple iPhones and iPads, this free app gives information on a wide range of threats. It also provides users with practical tools including customizable family evacuation plans, and emergency numbers and websites, as well as emergency supply checklists.

For the second year, National Preparedness Month culminates on Sept. 30, with a national day of action called "America's PrepareAthon." This community-based event encourages organizations like schools, houses of worship and businesses to take simple, specific actions to increase preparedness for potential disasters. FEMA wants participants to understand the possible threats in their community, know what to do to be safe, take action to increase overall preparedness as well as participate in community resilience planning.

Air Force emergency managers believe it's a great opportunity to step up and be a leader in emergency preparedness.

"First, take personal action to safeguard yourself and your family -- get a kit, make a plan and be prepared," said Sam Hazzard, emergency management education and training manager. "By doing those things and espousing them to friends, neighbors and co-workers, everyone can be a leader."

"Personal preparedness works to strengthen our national preparedness," said Lt. Col. Madison Morris, emergency services branch chief at Air Force headquarters, Washington, D.C. "The more self-sufficient the population is, the fewer outside resources it will need to ride out an event. Ultimately, in times of crisis, prepared Airmen and families enable our local, state and federal partners to apply response assets faster to where they are needed most."

Air Force emergency management embraces a leadership role as a benchmark program, added Epstein.

"We advocate individual Airman preparedness and how it is vital to the safety and well-being of families and communities," said Epstein. "We take great pride in our program and it's our honor and responsibility to do our part for National Preparedness Month."

For more information and resources to help you and your family "Be Ready," contact your installation's office of emergency management or visit