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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Yesterday’s “National Night Out” — Pitching Preparedness, Pamphleteering & Face Painting

August 6th, 2008 · 3 Comments

I spent much of last night on the streets of New York pushing preparedness. Specifically, I was in Columbus Circle near the southwest entrance of Central Park with my CERT team along with representatives of the New York police and fire departments as part of the annual “National Night Out”. It was the 25th anniversary of the nationwide event which aims to “generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs; and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.” The Columbus Circle event was one of many being held throughout the City and in over 10,000 communities in all 50 states. Our CERT team had a table and were responsible for distributing “Ready New York” preparedness guides in English, Spanish and Chinese.

IMG00126 by you.

Would you take a preparedness pamphlet from this man? Here I am trying to convince New Yorkers, with mixed success, to take a “Ready New York” guide in English, Spanish or Chinese.

We were in a very busy area, though about half the people were tourists not necessarily interested in New York preparedness information (I did, however, tell them that many of the recommendations are universal) or joggers heading into the park for a run without pockets. 

Over the course of the evening, I honed my street pitch for maximum effectiveness. Initially, I was offering passersby a “preparedness guide” which a lot of people didn’t understand and didn’t take. I tried “Ready New York Guides: It could save your life.” which was probably a little strong. Then, I settled on “Emergency Information: Important stuff” which seemed to pique most people’s interest. And it is important stuff. Soon, I had gotten through my stack.

National Night Out
CERT team members at our information table

Having done this type of street corner preparedness pamphleteering for the past three years, I find that people are interested in the information and in becoming prepared. However, just handing someone a pamphlet on the street is not enough if we really expect people to actually go through the process. There needs to be far more follow up, as I written about on this blog. 

Though the “National Night Out” event is focused on crime prevention, the involvement of CERT underscores the point that our role goes beyond disasters and into supporting law enforcement efforts. And further that that citizen and community preparedness is not just for major disasters but it is part of preparing and responding to emergencies (including crime) small and large with the objective of creating stronger and more resilient communities.IMG00124 by you.         

Community Policing 101: a multi-talented NYPD officer fostering good will one face at a time.


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Tags: CERT

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Roger // Aug 6, 2008 at 9:43 am

    How successful are these types of events as a recruiting mechanism for CERT?

  • 2 admin // Aug 6, 2008 at 9:53 am

    good question.
    my sense is that they are pretty good settings for recruiting. there is a lot of civilian traffic and a number of people are always curious about what cert is and what we do. and there are enough of us out there to talk to anyone at length. at the least, we put it into people’s mind that cert is a good volunteer opportunity if they are interested in that type of volunteering at some point.

  • 3 Bruce Curley // Aug 21, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    John…I admire your stick-to-it-ive-ness. Sadly, most people are about as interested in preparing for disasters as they are in having life insurance or long-term disability protection. In the 60’s the feds decided to leave this up to the professionals because too many people were getting neurotic about the Cold War. Sadly, the jihadi’s have made sure that they will no longer allow us that luxury.

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