Last year could arguably be called the “Year of Disasters.” Around the globe and here at home, natural disasters seemed to come one right after the other. From January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti to the wildfire, tornadoes and icy weather that affected Georgia, 2010 was a year that reminded us that natural disasters can strike anywhere at any time.
We can’t predict what kind of disasters the New Year holds, but we can resolve to be Ready for whatever comes our way in 2011. Are you one of the 79 percent of Georgians who aren’t prepared? Then make 2011 the “Year to Get Ready.” That means putting together a Ready kit and creating a family communication plan, then staying informed about the disasters that are most likely to come your way.
Want to resolve to be Ready in an even bigger way? Consider joining your county Citizen Corps. Citizen Corps is a locally driven initiative that creates public education, training and volunteer opportunities to support community and family safety. As GEMA’s statewide volunteer program coordinator, I help counties across Georgia develop their Citizen Corps programs, and provide support for their initiatives. If there is a place where I see that Citizen Corps can be a great help to the community, I make sure that the community leaders are aware of the benefits that trained volunteers can provide. Citizen Corps is a tremendous asset to this state and its local communities, and getting involved can be of great benefit to you as well.
By joining Citizen Corps, you will gain invaluable skills that will help you, your family and your community in the event of a disaster. The two primary Citizen Corps programs in Georgia are Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC):
- CERT helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen, blocked roads and downed communication lines may prevent first responders from reaching you. CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community. Find the CERT program nearest you to volunteer.
- MRC coordinates the skills of practicing and retired physicians, nurses and other health professionals as well as other citizens interested in health issues, who are eager to volunteer to address their community’s ongoing public health needs and to help their community during large-scale emergency situations. If you’re a member of the medical profession looking for a volunteer opportunity, find an MRC program near you.
So resolve to be Ready in 2011. Take the first step by putting together a Ready kit. Or find out how you can take preparedness to the next level by checking out the Georgia Citizen Corps on Facebook. Whether you just cover the basics or take a bigger step, it could be the best resolution you ever make.