September is National Preparedness Month and Alabama officials are hosting a Ready Alabama Day in Jacksonville on Thursday, September 6. It’s a chance for Alabamians to see how nearly 50 federal and local agencies prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters.
“Ready Alabama Day is basically a time when first responders at the local, federal and state levels come together and really bring their toys,” says Jon Mason. He’s director of Serve Alabama, a state agency that focuses on disaster preparedness and volunteerism.
“They [first responders] bring equipment, they bring personnel, things that really demonstrate their preparedness as far as response to disasters is concerned,” says Mason.
Participating agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency.
“Everyone is there showing how the state and all these other agencies are prepared, but all of this is wrapped around in the hopes that you and your family are prepared as well,” says Mason.
As part of Ready Alabama Day, agencies will show off their gadgets and tools as part of interactive demonstrations.
“It’s everything from mobile hospitals, where the Department of Health will bring in the type of hospital that’s set up, say if a tornado actually strikes a medical facility, or if a natural disaster occurs and there’s a need for this type of set-up, “ says Mason. “The Centers for Disease Control and other agencies bring out even radiation equipment to show how they test for radiation levels on people.”
Mason says many of the first responders from the April 27th tornadoes last year also show some of the tools they used. He says that disaster and a more recent storm event emphasizes the significance of being prepared.
“We’re coming off the heels of Isaac, we basically still have the April 2011 storm fresh in our minds, so I think everyone understands the importance of preparedness based on those two events.”
Ready Alabama Day will be held on the campus of Jacksonville State University in East Alabama. It starts at 9AM and wraps up at 2PM. Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers (Al-3) is scheduled to speak at a special program at 1PM. For more information on the event, visit Ready Alabama’s website.
Transcript of Maggie's interview...
(Mason): Ready Alabama Day is basically a time when first responders at the local, federal and state levels come together and really bring their toys. They bring equipment, they bring personal, they bring things that really demonstrate their preparedness as far as response to disasters is concerned. Everything from the CDC, center for disease control, to FEMA, to local EMA, local law enforcement, state wide EMA, homeland security, everyone is there kind of showing how the state and all these other agencies are prepared but all of this is wrapped around in the hopes that you as an individual or a family are prepared as well.
(Martin): Now you mentioned there will be some interactive demonstrations can you talk a little bit about what people should be expecting to see?
(Mason): Its everything from mobile hospitals where the department of health will bring in the type of hospital that’s set up say if a tornado actually strikes a medical facility or if a natural disaster occurred and there’s the need for this type of set up its basically going to be on demonstration there, the center for disease control and other agencies bring out even radiation equipment to show how they test for radiation levels on people. Some of the large response units from emergency management that have all the satellite technology and all the response and communications technology they’re going to be there with all the bells and whistles to really kind of show how the state, local and federal folks respond to disasters.
(Martin): This is the 9th annual ready Alabama day, is there anything new going on this year?
(Mason): Some of the new emphasis will be on the fact that we are just over a year out from really the largest natural disaster in our state’s history, with our April 2011 storms. So, many of those same first responders from North and North East Alabama from across the state, that responded to those tornadoes will actually be on hand with some of the tools that they used at this actual event.
(Martin): Can you expand on that, how will last Aprils tornadoes, or even hurricane Isaac more recently, make an impact on this year’s Ready Alabama Day?
(Mason): I think it’s all about awareness; we encourage families, individuals and businesses to be aware and prepare. The Awareness that disasters actually strike and hit Alabama is certainly here. The Gulf has been quiet for years, course we had Isaac with a bulls eye on Mobile Bay the weekend before that landfall before it jogged to the West about 100 miles. So people were preparing in advance for that, so I think this year the difference is that we’re coming off the heels of Isaac, we basically still have the April 2011 storms fresh in our minds so I think everybody really understands the importance of preparedness based on those two events.
(Martin): And finally John, how can Alabama residents benefit from attending this event?
(Mason): As a state that’s really used to responding to storms, you see the outpouring from all of the groups. They’re faith based groups, they’re nonprofit groups, they’re government groups that come and respond after storms. In a preparedness sense it would be nice to see some of that same energy on the front side of this and I think that’s what Alabamians can really take away from a Ready Alabama day.