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Be Prepared: The Boy Scout Motto Still Holds True!

September 26, 2014 | By: Tom Grace

Be Prepared: The Boy Scout Motto Still Holds True!

Fellow health care colleagues and first responders, we all have experience in preparing for and responding to emergencies, from the impact of severe weather to the emergence of new diseases.

We are educated and trained in following our hospital’s disaster plans. We are there for our community during these stressful times, and often go above and beyond our normal duties when responding to our community’s emergencies and disasters.

We know what we need to do during these events; however, if a disaster happened today, would you―as a person, and not a health care professional or first responder—be ready?

Market research sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during 2012 showed that only 14 percent of people surveyed had taken every action they could to be ready for emergencies; and 21 percent were working on being prepared.

For 46 percent of people surveyed, being prepared for emergencies wasn’t even on their radar.   Here are some steps we can take to ensure the health and well-being of our families, while we are busy providing care to others.

Make a Plan

Just as our hospitals have disaster plans, we must make a plan for our family. has made it simple for you to create a family emergency plan. Make sure that you consider and customize your plan for your individual needs and responsibilities based on the methods of communication, types of shelter, and methods of transportation available to you.

One of the greatest challenges in most emergencies is the ability to communicate with our family members. A pre-designated out-of-town contact is key to communications when local systems are overloaded.

Often, long-distance lines remain open when local routes are clogged. Likewise, text and social media communications usually remain available when phone lines are clogged.

FEMA has a great resource to help you to create your family communication plan. Once completed, you should keep this document somewhere safe like in your wallet or in your kid’s backpack or school notebook. Another option is to input these numbers into your cell phone.

Some other factors you should keep in mind when developing your plan include:

  • Different ages and mobility levels of household members
  • Work and responsibilities for assisting others
  • Locations frequented (including work)
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs including prescriptions, medications, and other medical equipment
  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including eyeglasses, hearing aids, and other support devices and equipment
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets or service animals

Build a Kit

Another important step in preparing for an emergency or disaster is building a disaster kit, which should contain basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

You should assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency because you probably will not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them if you have to evacuate an area quickly.

You also may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours.

FEMA offers resources and related information to help you with building and maintaining your disaster kit.

As National Preparedness Month draws to a close, I want to remind all of you that the Boy Scout motto still holds true, be prepared!

Being prepared is part of what we do as health care professionals and first responders. Knowing that our own family is prepared can bring us some piece of mind while we are doing our jobs.

Tom Grace
Written by Tom Grace
Tom Grace is the vice president of health services and disaster preparedness. He is responsible for initiatives in southeast Pennsylvania and across the state that coordinate, lead, and support the health care community’s emergency and disaster preparedness efforts.


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