Preparedness requires putting action in place, not just a passing thought about putting together a go-kit with some food and water supplies.
The World Trade Center Evacuation study in 2012 assessed the Emergency Preparedness Safety of those who evacuated the WTC on Sept. 11, 2001. It’s estimated that about 15,000 persons successfully evacuated both towers inside of two hours that day.
Surprisingly, the evacuation study discovered that 94 percent of survivors responded that they had NEVER exited the building as part of a drill. Eight-four percent reported NO PLANS regarding where to gather after evacuating nor PLANS for accountability. A further 81 percent claimed to have participated in fire drills, but of these, ONLY 11 percent HAD EVER ENTERED A STAIRWELL. How sad.
In 1993, it took about six hours to evacuate most of the occupants of the WTC after terrorists detonated a bomb in an underground garage. That wake-up call inevitably led to better preparedness and evacuation standards by the New York Port Authority, which upgraded the building’s stairwells and organized evacuation drills so as to be prepared for a terror attack. Those actions saved thousands of lives on Sept. 11.
Today we continue to face challenges and threats from many directions. The November 2009 Fort Hood shootings, the March 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, Super-storm Sandy in October 2012 and the September 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings all tell us that threats are only moments away and we must be prepared.
Every activity or command at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria installations must have an Emergency Action Plan, specific to the building or activity, for addressing known threats or hazards. Many examples are available at www.ready.army.mil or through the installation Emergency Management Specialist. More importantly, these plans must be practiced until you gain proficiency preserving our most important resources- the men and women who serve and protect our Nation.
The next time the garrison conducts a full-scale exercise (October) or a tornado (March) drill- exercise your plan fully. Don’t place convenience or meetings before the drill. When leadership or supervisors participate, Soldiers and employees are more likely to follow their lead during an emergency situation.
You can find more information on National Preparedness Month, as well as emergency preparedness and kid friendly resources at www.Ready.Army.mil.
Tom Janis is the USAG Bavaria Emergency Manager. More information on emergency management at www.bavaria.army.mil/em.