National Preparedness Campaign Features Chicago Connection
NORC at the University of Chicago partners with Safe America Foundation on National BE Safe America Drill and Preparedness Training
Atlanta, June 19, 2012 – The Atlanta-based Safe America Foundation will unveil its plans today to involve more than 2 million people in the fourth annual BE Safe America national preparedness campaign at a Congressional Briefing. Partnering with the Foundation in emphasizing the importance of preparedness training, planning and drilling will be NORC at the University of Chicago.
BE Safe America was begun in 2009 and is designed as a national ‘exercise’ to help encourage every American to practice dealing with a major disaster. This year the Foundation plans to orchestrate a three-pronged effort that emphasizes (1) heightened training, (2) local practice ‘drills’ and (3) ongoing citizen education. It invites companies both large and small to ‘plug-and-play’ their own preparedness programming into the ‘BE Safe America’ drill season, which extends from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30.
“We’re living in a time when Katrinas, Joplins and Tuscaloosas are annual events,” said Foundation President & CEO Len Pagano. “We’re 100% sure that there will be more significant disasters. The question is, can we minimize their impact by practicing how we’d respond afterwards? It’s obvious that, just like in other endeavors that require pre-meditated forethought and role-playing, a disaster drill can help make our response better, sharper and less spontaneous – which means we can lessen the chance that people will be left behind…or not react and remain in the path of destruction.”
“Every American needs to know what they should do when faced with an emergency,” said Dr. Doug Himberger, Senior Vice President of NORC at the University of Chicago, and Regional Chairman of the Safe America Foundation (for the Capitol Region). “NORC’s work in this project will help Safe America engage not only first responders and emergency managers, but the general public, helping them to rehearse how they will react to a hurricane, tornado, or terrorist event. This is critical if we’re to avoid panic and minimize the loss of lives from a catastrophic event.”
Details of the 2012 BE Safe America campaign will be highlight today at a Capitol Hill Briefing.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) will appear at the Congressional briefing along with Congressman Rob Andrews (D-NJ). Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who hosted the Safe America briefing in 2011, will be honored for her work at engaging ‘average citizens’ in disaster readiness.
Also honored will be current First Spouses Luce Vela (of Puerto Rico) and Diane Bentley (of Alabama) along with former First Spouse Gayle Manchin (of West Virginia). The three women – along with Mary Pat Christie of New Jersey – helped spearhead the involvement of gubernatorial spouses from coast-to-coast, including the filming of television messages that have been run on local television stations.
A new survey – conducted by Zogby Interactive for Chicago-based Federal Signal – will also be released at the Congressional Briefing. It shows that Americans are confident they are ‘aware’ of the community alert systems in place; yet, in reality, they do not know what these sirens are designed to tell people to do.
About BE Safe America
Safe America will work with a coalition of NGOs and Governmental entities on a late summer outreach effort to encourage public, private, and civil sectors – and everyday American families – to conduct their own practice drills during BE Safe’s 60-day drill season.
BE Safe America will feature exercises such as mass employee evacuations or shelter-in-place exercises will be encouraged, along with a simple 60-second ‘text drill’ that the Foundation has developed for families’ use. It includes a ‘safety shorthand’ to help families recognize that they can simply send out a 4-digit ‘R U OK’ message and get a quick ‘I M OK’ reply – which takes less bandwidth than a 1-minute phone call. Safe America’s work with the University of Missouri has proven that you can put 800 such text messages of the ‘air space’ of a single voice call – allowing a small community to reconnect immediate after a disaster rather than be isolated, not knowing the status of loved ones and co-workers.
Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Homeland Security Task Force, Safe America will begin the process with a survey of Fortune 500 firms to see whether they will ‘pledge-to-prepare’ and then drill. This activity – to be conducted in collaboration with UPS, Federal Signal other partners (both corporate and non-profits) – hopes to set a benchmark from which future annual drills can be measured.
The program will include a ‘BE Safe America Drill Day,’ planned for October 18th. It is planned to coincide with the ‘Great California Shakeout,’ a West Coast-based earthquake drill that last year engaged over 8 million Americans from California, Washington State, Oregon and other earthquake-prone areas.
A national steering committee is composed of representatives from Disaster Recovery International (DRI), the University of Missouri, Motorola Solutions, and over 20 non-profit and governmental organizations, including:
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- The Medical Reserve Corps
- The International Association of Emergency Managers
- Points of Light
- National PTA
- The National Emergency Managers Association
- The National Foundation for Women Legislators
- The All Hazards Consortium
- The American Logistics Aid Network
- The Northeast Disaster Exchange (NEDRIX)
- the National Association of Government Communicators
- the National Association of State EMS Officers
- the National Association of Secretaries of State
- The African American Coalition for Drug Prevention Policy
Another aspect of the BE Safe America program will be honoring the ‘Top 20’ organizations who commit the most individuals and/or collective effort to exercising their readiness. Communities, individuals, and NGOs will also be recognized for their efforts at a planned post-event celebration in the 4th Quarter (hosted by UPS at its Corporate Headquarters in Atlanta).
Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta is the Honorary Chairman of the program. Along with former Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Joxel Garcia, (Chairman of the Safe America Foundation) and Federal Signal President Joe Wilson, the program leadership includes Dr. Doug Himberger (NORC at the University of Chicago); Dennis Rubin, former Fire Chief for the District of Columbia; and UPS Executive Jack McKlveen.
About the Safe America Foundation
The Safe America Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit licensed by the state of Georgia. Chartered in 1994, the Marietta, Georgia based foundation partners with corporate, governmental, public and private sector organizations, and other nonprofits to improve the safety awareness and preparedness of Americans nationwide.
About NORC at the University of Chicago
NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research organization headquartered in downtown Chicago with additional offices on the University of Chicago's campus, the D.C. Metro area, Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco. NORC also supports a nationwide field staff as well as international research operations. With clients throughout the world, NORC collaborates with government agencies, foundations, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and businesses to provide data and analysis that support informed decision making in key areas including health, education, economics, crime, justice, energy, security, and the environment. NORC’s more than 70 years of leadership and experience in data collection, analysis, and dissemination—coupled with deep subject matter expertise—provides the foundation for effective solutions.
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