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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

A Good Citizen Preparedness Tip About Cellphones I Learned After Yesterday’s Crane Collapse

May 31st, 2008 · 6 Comments

Soon after the tragic crane collapse on the Upper East Side, my CERT team was deployed by the City’s Office of Emergency Management to help in the response.

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A photo I took yesterday of local residents looking at the aftermath of a crane collapse that had killed two people earlier in the day.

We helped the Red Cross set up and staff the public school that was turned into an evacuation center for the residents of the impacted buildings.

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A closer view of the damage.

Like the crane collapse a few weeks ago — as well as the small plane crash that killed Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle — this accident displaced a number of apartment residents and many came to the evacuation center for information. This time, a common question asked was how they could get their cellphones charged.

Eventually, power chargers for the various mobile phone makes owned by residents were found. But it was a bit of an epiphany for me. I have been closely following and proselyzing Preparedness 2.0 for awhile and believe that the cellphone or PDA is the most important emergency tool you need to have and learn how to use. In fact, recently I recommended, on the suggestion of Mitchell Moss, that everyone have an extra cellphone battery.  However, until yesterday I had not thought that a cellphone charger might be a good thing to have in your ‘go-bag’.

An alternative idea was suggested to me yesterday by one of my CERT team colleagues. She said she has purchased a windup crank radio which has a number of helpful features for an emergency including the ability to charge a cellphone.

Either way, yesterday’s experience taught me another tip that I wanted to pass on. As many experts have told me, disasters often offer ’teachable moments’, and citizens, like the authorities, need to take full advantage of them for the future.

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CERT and Red Cross volunteers unloading food and supplies for evacuation center.

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Tags: CERT · Preparedness Tips

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bruce Curley // May 31, 2008 at 8:20 pm


    Another useful charger is a thin film photovoltaic charger. You can charge up your phone using the sun when electric power is not available. It can also be used to charge up the batter of your auto.

  • 2 Bruce Curley // May 31, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    This is an explanation of all aspects of avolunteer mobilization center (which it sounds like you have setup) that may be useful to you. This model was developed and perfected in Florida and is now used nationwide.

  • 3 Government Emergency Email/Text Alerts — Crane Accident Underscores Great Promise, Current Limitations // Jun 2, 2008 at 5:54 am

    [...] As I reported in an earlier post, the residents of the buildings affected by the crane collapse on …. In fact, keeping your mobile device juiced during and after an emergency situation is crucial so you can both communicate with others and get the latest information from the media and government authorities. As I have mentioned on the blog before, I subscribe to a number of free governmental e-mail/text alert services in New York and around the nation which provide official emergency information. [...]

  • 4 CERT Helps Residents Return To Building After Crane Accident — & A Couple More Citizen Preparedness Thoughts // Jun 5, 2008 at 6:18 am

    [...] two days to help tenants move back into the Upper East Side Manhattan building which was struck by a falling crane last Friday morning. Our team, the East Side Neighborhood Association (ESNA)-CERT, was joined by the Upper East Side [...]

  • 5 Twitter To The Rescue // Jul 2, 2008 at 11:53 am

    [...] May, during the second Manhattan crane collapse, I tried to send a Twitter message to someone alerting him my CERT team was being deployed. But [...]

  • 6 Breaking News: Ready.Gov, Red Cross Adding Mobile Phones To Basic Emergency Preparedness Supply Kit Recommendation // May 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    [...] The Red Cross has already changed its “Be Red Cross Ready” sheet which provides the “minimum” basic supplies every American should have to prepare for a disaster. DHS will make the changes to its Ready.Gov website later in the week, Ready’s acting director Rebecca Marquis confirmed today. The addition of mobile phones and chargers to the list is something that this blog has advocated. [...]

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