In a speech marking the end of National Preparedness Month, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano today asked Americans “to raise your hand and ask ‘What’s our plan’” at their schools, workplaces, houses of worship, social organizations, and homes.
The full speech text has not yet been released but in the Department’s “Leadership Blog,” Napolitano summarized its contents:
“Today, in remarks at the American Red Cross, I’m speaking about another important mission: readiness and resilience. Our nation may be better prepared than we were before 9/11. But there is much more we can – and should – do. And to get there, we must treat our nation’s preparedness as a shared responsibility, one where everyone has a role to play. Civilians are usually the first to arrive in a crisis, and history shows that they are critical in those important first minutes. And these citizen responders can be an even more potent force by:
Taking CPR training from the Red Cross; Training with a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT); Knowing when to take shelter or evacuate; Pre-planning evacuation routes and where to meet after a disaster strikes
If a disaster struck your hometown, that training, those skills, and those plans would free up first responders and emergency personnel to focus on those most in need.
So today, I’m calling on all Americans, across the country, to do two things.
First, take these basic steps: get an emergency kit; make a family reunification plan; and become informed about the types of emergencies your community is most likely to encounter.
Second, I’m asking all of us who are in book clubs, prayer groups, school boards, alumni associations, or other community organizations, simply to raise your hand and ask, “What’s our plan?”
Together, we can build a culture of readiness and resilience, and together we can build a more secure future.
I think that Napolitano’s emphasis on asking Americans to ask “What’s our plan?” in all aspects of their lives is a good one. It’s catchy, relatively easy remember (and to do) and is something that can have a big impact on a community’s preparedness. Of course, the person who does the asking may find themselves given the responsibility for answering the question for the group. But it is in our own self interest to make sure the places we frequent do have a good answer to the Secretary’s question.
DHS SECRETARY JANET NAPOLITANO, WITH RED CROSS PRESIDENT GAIL MCGOVERN, AFTER HER SPEECH
A DHS press release also includes some additional Napolitano quotes from the speech which was delivered at the American Red Cross Hall of Service in Washington, D.C. in front of more than 300 volunteers and employees representing the Red Cross, Citizen Corps, and local and regional emergency management agencies:
“When families are prepared—when communities stand together and stand tall—so does our nation,” she said, adding. “United, we send a powerful message to those that seek to do us harm: we cannot be broken, we are America—strong and resilient.”
“America’s history is not written by the tragedies that have befallen us, but by how we responded to them,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Since our earliest days, every time we have been challenged or have seen tragedy, Americans have shown a sense of purpose and resilience.”
“We should measure our nation’s security not just by the borders we strengthen and the laws we enforce, but also by the strength and resilience of the communities we build,” said Secretary Napolitano.
UPDATE: The full transcript can now be found here.