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Preparedness: Are You Ready?



The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan provide
a reminder that disaster can strike quickly, that relief teams and responders are stretched to the limit around the world, that help will not be immediate, and that the dangers and challenges are certain to continue long after the initial event.

There is no magic prevention or easy fix for this reality.  Governments, businesses,
and schools may choose to postpone or neglect preparedness measures, but
at potentially great risk to their citizens, stakeholders, or students.  Citizens must be prepared to take care of themselves for weeks.  In severely underdeveloped countries like Haiti, the consequences of an earthquake are dire.  In modern cities, they could be nearly so.

There is no comprehensive survey or yardstick that measures countries, cities, and organizations on their readiness.  But every leader in government, business, and schools should ask some basic questions.   Is your community truly ready for the unexpected?  A bit of research in your area will usually turn up some very good resources, including the Red Cross and local government programs.  The best preparedness programs are “grass roots” in nature, enabling a neighborhood or village to prepare intelligently.

Our focus continues to be on communications, which can facilitate a successful response in an emergency.  It can also be a critical obstacle, if disrupted or absent.  In our location (Clackamas County, Oregon, U.S.A.) some very good planning is under way, led by knowledgeable emergency response managers who understand the problem of relying solely on radio and cell phones.   In 2011 and for years to come, the Internet and mobile computing, enabled by reliable data communications, provide an integrated, responsive capability that will be essential in first 24-72 hours of an emergency. 

Now is a good time to think about preparedness. Don’t put it off – there’s no better time than the present to review your situation and plan for the unexpected!


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