I opened my Facebook account a couple of weeks ago and found a status post written by a friend with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management containing the question “are you ready?”

I opened my Facebook account a couple of weeks ago and found a status post written by a friend with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management containing the question “are you ready?”
“Ready for what?” I thought to myself. Read more...”oh, it’s National Preparedness Month.”
Just this Tuesday I was caught unprepared for what could have been a medical emergency when a coworker suddenly fell ill and I did not have my blood pressure equipment ready to check her vital signs. I felt helpless for her and then quickly realized that I was not ready for any type of medical emergency because my kit was strewn from my van to my house after a recent trip. I wasn’t ready for anything!
So, are you ready? For everything?
As many moms, wives, employees and volunteers do, I wear many hats, so preparation has become a high priority and one which I’m attempting to instill in my children (I hope they grasp it soon because school mornings are a nightmare!). If caught off guard, things could go bad quickly. So why not be prepared for everything?
Northeast Arkansas was caught off-guard early this year with the sudden onset of a disabling ice storm. With this ice storm came serious damage, many inconveniences and lots of chaos because preparations were not made ahead of time, at home, at work and in operations that are in place to take care of such situations.
While mom and dad were trying to make sure that Johnny and Susie were warm in the middle of the night because they lost all heat when the power lines were knocked down by falling limbs, operations that are created to work together were scrambling to get the job done and looking for help that should already be in place. That’s not what I call prepared.
Most of us strive to make life operate as smoothly as possible, so why can’t we help others do so? How hard is it to devote time and energy to learning about how to help yourself and a neighbor or friend in a disaster?
There are a number of volunteer opportunities in your community. You’ve probably encountered many of these organizations, donated money to their sales or passed them on your way into the stores. You may have read about the good deeds they’ve done or even asked for help from some of them. They’re all there for a good cause, so why aren’t you involved?
With classes available like the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and organizations like the Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC), there are plenty of ways for everyone in the community to become involved in planning and preparing for any type of emergency that should strike.
My passion lies in this type of work, so naturally I’m going to be involved, but I also see the importance of knowing how to be prepared for “the event”, whatever it may be. Having worked a number of emergency incidents over the past two years, including floods, ice and severe storms, I can tell you that the first thing I thought of was, “Is my family safe?” followed quickly by “what does everyone need?”
Jackson County has been affected by many natural and man-made disasters in the past, from chemical spills and massive industrial fires to tornadoes, floods and earthquakes. It’s only a matter of time before the next incident hits.
Are you ready?
In 1997, Jackson County was hit with the strongest storm system I can remember. While my parents, sister and I crowded around the television, my grandparents drove straight into a giant wall cloud, unaware of what they had encountered, and were flipped all over their vehicle as it rode out the tornado on Hwy. 14 at Macks. They survived with only minor scrapes and bruises. Unfortunately, others were seriously injured in the same storm.
Are you ready?
If not, rest assured you can be. There are lots of agencies that can help you, educate you and guide you in the right direction to getting prepared. There are websites where you can retrieve lists for emergency kits, learn how to handle different emergencies and find help when you need it most. All you have to do is try.
It’s all up to you.
For more information on disaster preparedness, call the Jackson County Office of Emergency Management at 523-6011 or visit www.adem.arkansas.gov.