2018-09-14 / Front Page

September is National Preparedness Month

Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

September is National Preparedness Month and the perfect time for everyone to learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones should a disaster occur.

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

This is the 15th year that September has been proclaimed National Preparedness Month, according to Vincent Pacchiana, Fort Gordon installation emergency manager.

National Preparedness Month began in 2004 to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and has since become a nationwide effort to improve preparedness in America.

The theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month is “Disasters happen. Prepare now. Learn now.”

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

Pacchiana said his goal is to inform and educate as many people as possible on the importance of being prepared for an emergency.

“Preparedness is critical to preserve life, health and safety during an emergency,” he said. “We have to be prepared for all types of emergencies, and we have to have the mindset that is not ‘if,’ but ‘when’ an emergency will occur.”

This year the Army again joined with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the 2018 National Preparedness Month campaign.

The campaign is a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and community resilience.

Pacchiana encourages everyone to learn what protective measures to take before, during and after an emergency.

The Ready Campaign and Ready Army Campaign established four universal building blocks of emergency preparedness.

“Individuals and families need to make a plan; build a kit for disasters, be informed and get involved,” Pacchiana explained.

The Ready site (www.ready.gov/buildakit) and Ready Army site (www.acsim. army.mil/readyarmy) are informative online sites that address the recommended supplies for building a kit for the home, office, and car.

Some common items people forget to take with them when they evacuate are extra copies of their health insurance cards, a bank statement, traveler’s checks, insurance policies, birth certificates, social security cards, immigration papers, marriage certificate and for service members, a copy of their leave and earning statements.

While pre-made emergency kits are available for purchase, both online and in the local area, they tend to be costly. Pacchiana recommends people develop a personalized kit based on their needs by using the suggested items from the Ready GA and Ready Federal Emergency Management Agency sites.

“A very good aspect to the Ready Army site is that it provides individuals to obtain information on any type of emergency. Simply go onto the site and click the Hazard Specific Fact Sheets hyperlink in the left column,” he advised.

“We are very fortunate to be able to use a variety of resources to promote emergency preparedness,” the emergency manager said.

Key resources include the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross.

“Fort Gordon cares about the Soldiers, their family members, civilians, and contractors,” Pacchiana said. “We have plans in place that are continually being updated and evaluated, and the post has a very competent, professional and experienced staff to handle an emergency.”

Early warning mass notification is critical to inform individuals of a real or potential emergency. “The installation utilizes a combination of systems to send out mass notification messages,” Pacchiana explained. “We utilize a multi-functions system called AtHoc which has the ability to send out information via email, text, telephone, and Pop-Up on Fort Gordon domain computers. Our external mass notification provides critical information through the giant voice system and installation public address system.”

When disaster hits, Fort Gordon residents and employees would initially evacuate to Alexander Hall, but location is situational dependent and may change, Pacchiana explained.

In the Central Savannah River Area and Fort Gordon, residents need to be aware of hazards in this area.

“As our residents have seen in past years, Fort Gordon and the great CSRA has experienced severe ice storms, thunderstorms with powerful lightning, hail storm, earthquakes, and high winds,” Pacchiana said. “This summer we had extremely high temperatures. The Installation Operations Center monitors the heat categories and send out AtHoc messages, send out a message over the public address system, and raises warning flags on the installation to inform the personnel on Fort Gordon.”

Draw up a family emergency plan and practice it often. Let each family member know how to reconnect after a disaster. It should be part of the family emergency communication plan. Remember to include an emergency plan for pets, seniors and individuals with special needs.

“When a disaster or emergency hits, it’s important to keep in mind that you have to be prepared, and when instructed or directed to evacuate, you need to do it,” he said. “Don’t be a hero.”

There will be information booths and displays set up at the Post Exchange, Commissary, and Eisenhower Army Medical Center throughout September in observance of National Preparedness Month.

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