In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

In Case Of Emergency, Read Blog

A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Responding To WNYC “Brian Lehrer Show” Listener Questions

April 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Thank you for all the emergency preparedness questions called or emailed in during the fourth installment of the Brian Lehrer Show’s ‘Are You Ready’ series. Though I’m not sure I’m knowledgeable enough to be dubbed a preparedness guru, I hope the series was somewhat informative on an issue — public emergency preparedness – that doesn’t always get a lot of media attention.

For me, it was really interesting and helpful to get all this feedback from listeners. I think it is reflective of the great interest, curiosity, confusion and yes, skepticism, of Americans when it comes to civilian preparedness. It is not a topic that comes up very often, particularly before a disaster, but I feel it is somewhere in everyone’s mind – what I would, should and could do if something serious happens.

That’s why I think there is a real need for a place where citizens can ask, and have answered, all their questions — some very small and personal and other broad and universal. Many don’t have a single answer and others actually require the public itself to help the government determine the answer. Either way, it is very important that we raise them now rather than in the midst of a crisis. 

To me, the public’s uncertainty needs to be addressed head on if we are to make a dent in the nation’s current low level of public readiness. I would recommend interactive web sites (and maybe even a 800#) where citizens could make inquiries about preparedness. Otherwise, it is not going to be done. As my four appearances on Brian’s show further confirmed for me, there are just too many questions and qualms among the public for any progress to be made on this. 

Many of the questions I received were technology related, which is not surprising as new personal tech increasingly proliferates throughout our lives. Some I have never heard asked, let alone answered, until this week.

For example, during the show, a caller asked whether his new phone service provided by his local cable operator would be useable during if the power went down. It is a question I had not heard before.

I recommended that people keep a traditional plug-in phone, because they will usually work in a power failure. I also suggested that everyone have a backup battery for their cell phones as well. But I couldn’t answer this caller’s inquiry. There were subsquent posts with conflicting answers so the show decided as part of their Follow-Up Friday feature to check with a tech expert. The expert, Mario Armstrong, indicated that cable phone service uses VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) which would likely be useable after a power outage for about 6-8 hours because there would be some backup power. Armstrong said that a cordless phone would die. However, an ‘old fashioned’ POTS (plain old telephone service) corded landline will work.

This is the type of open source teamwork between the media and the public, adding correct (and knocking down incorrect) information, that is necessary to fully address the range of preparedness questions from the citizenry. It is important that these types of detailed questions are addressed. It also underscores how much knowledge is out there among the citizenry and the importance of capitalizing that asset more than we do now.


These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Technorati

Tags: Media

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Harry // Apr 29, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Sounds like we need Wikipedia – preparedness edition. Social Networking! Wisdom of the Crowd! Web 2.0! Enough buzz words. I’m a mechanical engineer, not a web programmer.

Leave a Comment