EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – August 18, 2004

National Preparedness Month
September 2004

Lara Shane
Director of Public Education
Office of Public Affaires, Department of Homeland Security

Avagene Moore, CEM
Moderator, EIIP Coordinator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Amy Sebring, my partner/associate, and I are pleased to see you in our audience today. Today's topic is "National Preparedness Month - September 2004."

It is my pleasure to introduce our speaker. Lara Shane is the Director of Public Education in the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Public Affairs. She manages a number of high profile projects that are designed to educate the American public about the Department's mission, goals and various programs.

Among the projects is the department's national public education campaign, Ready, which was developed with the Advertising Council. The campaign is designed to inform and empower citizens about how to prepare for a terrorist attack or other emergency. Other projects include a national media workshop series being undertaken in partnership with the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) and the National Academies to improve communication between government and media during a crisis.

Prior to moving to DHS headquarters, Lara served as media advisor to the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In that role, she served as spokesperson for, and strategic advisor to, the director of the agency on matters pertaining to media relations and outreach during national disasters. Lara also worked for nearly three years as an associate producer at CBS News for the Early Show.

Lara, we thank you for being here today to share an important overview with the EIIP Virtual Forum audience. We hope this will create more interest in National Preparedness Month and more people will be aware of the effort and get involved. Lara, I now turn the floor to you.


Lara Shane: It is a pleasure to be with you today on the EIIP Virtual Forum. I am excited to have this opportunity to talk to the emergency management community about National Preparedness Month. Let me tell you about this important effort, then, I will be happy to take your questions.

During the month of September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be part of a national coalition of more than 60 private sector and government partners that will encourage all Americans to become better prepared for terrorist attacks and other emergencies. In addition, all 56 states and territories are participating in National Preparedness Month. It’s a great coalition and we are really excited about working with all these groups.

Throughout September the coalition will hold a variety of events across the country that will provide valuable information describing basic steps individuals can take to become better prepared for different emergency situations. There will be all kinds of activities and events throughout the month by all the different partners and the Department of Homeland Security will expand the Ready Campaign to include Ready for Business and Ready for Kids. We will also launch new public service announcements in September.

The official kick-off of National Preparedness Month will be on Capitol Hill on September 9. Representatives of the more than 60 National Preparedness Month partner organizations will be on hand for the event, which is co-chaired by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA).

Of special interest to all of you will be the members of the emergency management community who will be part of this effort and what you can do. The International Association of Emergency Managers and the National Emergency Management Association will both be National Preparedness Month partners. Homeland Security staff are working closely with IAEM and NEMA on their plans for September.

But overall, members of the emergency management community can be a key part of National Preparedness Month by sharing this important message in their community. Some ideas for events you can undertake in September include:

  • Hosting first aid or preparedness training classes; or "kit making" or "communication plan making" events in your communities;
  • Hosting town hall meetings to share your local emergency plan;
  • Sending emails to your colleagues and partners informing them about "National Preparedness Month" and asking them to get prepared;
  • Distributing emergency preparedness materials in your offices and at public events;
  • Talking about your community emergency plans at local events; working with local papers to print information about local emergency plans;
  • Working with your local Citizen Corps councils to plan unique events or training sessions; and
  • Urging your local area leaders to customize Ready public service announcements and brochures.

One important tool that many National Preparedness Month partners will use and that each of you can use to teach citizens about emergency preparedness is the Ready campaign. Ready is a nation-wide public service advertising (PSA) campaign to educate and empower American citizens to prepare for and respond to potential future terrorist attacks and other emergencies. Its Spanish language version, Listo was launched in December 2003.

The PSAs offer practical suggestions for citizens to increase preparedness, including learning about serious threats, making emergency supply kits, creating a family communication plan and keeping emergency phone numbers near the phone. The ads direct Americans to call 1-800-BE-Ready to access a free brochure or visit www.ready.gov where they can learn the best ways to protect themselves and their families against terrorism and other emergencies. Visit the Ready website for materials and further information that you can use in September or anytime.

Now that I have updated you on our efforts to promote citizen emergency preparedness, feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

Avagene Moore: Thank you very much, Lara. I trust the audience has questions for you.

[Audience Questions & Answers]


Amy Sebring: Lara, I understand a media kit has been put together for this event? Is it available now and, if so, from where?

Lara Shane: We have issued a news release about National Preparedness Month. It is up on the DHS website, www.dhs.gov. That news release really just throws down the marker to let people know it will happen. We will issue a more complete news release when we get a little closer.


Jennifer Moorer: Can we customize these materials and when can we begin using them?

Lara Shane: Yes, you can customize them. Right now on our website are two brochures you all can download and customize on the back panel. We are also refreshing the brochure and the new customizable brochure will be available in October. In addition to the brochures, we are producing new public service announcements. We will produce 25:5 spots instead of 30 second spots so they can be tagged by local officials. We will distribute those throughout September. We will distribute them through all of our partners and state and local organizations like U.S. Conference of Mayors, NGA, NACCHO etc to let people know they are available to them.

You can use the materials on our website right now. The new materials are currently in development and will be available in September/October if everything goes according to our well-laid plan.


Tom Orlando: Wondering what is being done to enhance local relationships between the 60 or so organizations you're working with. Anything being offered specifically to build relationships between local E.M., local public health, local law enforcement, and local non-profits like Red Cross? What national public health, law enforcement, and related (more than EM agencies) are involved?

Lara Shane: We are encouraging everyone to work with each other at the local level. For example, we got the U.S. chamber of commerce together with Red Cross, so that the Red Cross can do some training at local businesses. We are encouraging all the participating groups to see who in their communities are also involved so they can get together on some of their ideas.

To the latter part of your question, there are more than 60 partners, including Fraternal Order of Police, National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, Assn. of County and City Health Officials, etc. The complete list isn't listed yet, though we will have it posted soon. The list as of August 10 is posted, but people are signing on by the hour!! We have tremendous interest and are really excited.

Amy Sebring: See http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/press_release/press_release_0481.xml


Joe Counsil: Are there regional or national databases of presenters who are available to come to our community? Our Citizen Corps would like to sponsor seminars for the public, etc.

Lara Shane: We are hoping that local emergency management officials will be invited to speak about community plans. We think it's important for citizens to know what the plan is for their particular community - rather than having a national or regional figure speak broadly. The Council for Excellence in Govt. recently released a report about a communication gap that exists between how much planning is being done at the community level, and how much residents know about those plans. I hope National Preparedness Month will provide a forum to talk about all the good work that is being done. Hopefully NPM will give our friends in the media a good opportunity to do these preparedness stories.


Meg McLaughlin: One idea that came up in Missouri was getting language inserted into the National Weather Service emergency broadcast test recording re: preparedness steps. Is this something that could be pursued at the national level?

Lara Shane: Yes, that is something worth exploring, though sometimes events happen with no warning or the broadcast system is activated immediately before an incident. One other thing we are doing is working with the National Association of Broadcasters and the Weather Channel to encourage them to talk about preparedness steps when local channels or the Weather Channel is doing weather related coverage. I should mention as well that the NAB is putting out a broadcasters guide on preparedness stories.


Michael Kiley-Zufelt: Lara, you mentioned several times that the efforts were targeted at "Americans" and "citizens." As a Red Cross Disaster Educator and in keeping with the guiding principals of the Red Cross, I feel strongly that our preparedness education efforts be aimed at everyone in our country, regardless of their nationality or status as a citizen. I just want to be clear that National Preparedness Month is open to everyone and not just US citizens.

Lara Shane: Michael, to answer your question, I couldn't agree with you more. When I say "citizen" I mean it inclusively for all residents.


Jo Moss: I have a very specific target audience of school districts – both internal to districts themselves and for community outreach. Any suggestions? Especially since school systems tend to fall into the referenced "gap" that the Council for Excellence has identified.

Lara Shane: The Department of Education has been working with schools on their emergency preparedness plans. They are part of National Preparedness month as well and I know that they are really trying to get schools motivated. They have a website you might want to look at in their Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, I know they offer a sample plan. Also, one other tool you will have this fall is Ready for Kids. Not for schools, but for school kids and teachers. Hopefully, it will be another resource for you in the future and can close some gaps.


Jennifer Stephens: I wanted to mention that the American Red Cross chapter that I am part of is putting together a day of disaster preparedness and involving the local EMA as part of the effort.

Lara Shane: The Red Cross is focusing a lot of its efforts on September 18. They've been great to work worth and I know would love to work with all of you at the local level.


Claudia Bitner: Wouldn't Meg's question have to be answered by the FCC? They have rules on what can be sent through the EAS. It is a great idea!

Lara Shane: Actually Claudia, the Department of Homeland Security can access the Emergency Broadcast System under a new agreement with NOAA. We can access it now as well.

Amy Sebring: Lara, I assume the timing of this has to do with 9-11. Are you anticipating that this will become an annual event at the same time of year? Incidentally, I DO like the timing as we are entering our most active hurricane season in September.

Lara Shane: Timing is 9-11 anniversary as well as back to school, and Congress is back in session, etc. We aren't sure yet if it will be annual. I think it's a real possibility – I certainly like the idea. We'll have to see if our partners want to pursue again next year.


Tom Orlando: When did planning on this begin, and why did it take so long to get the word out? The month is almost here, and we're just now hearing about it.

Lara Shane: Planning started several months ago. NEMA and IAEM are partners. We have been doing outreach for several months, but it takes a long time to build a coalition like this and get it ready to announce.


Michael Kiley-Zufelt: Lara, I just wanted to follow up on your answer to my original question. I think we need to be very careful not to use words or phrases that might send a message of exclusion; either to educators or to those we are trying to reach. I don't want to harp on the issue, but it really does have an impact.

Lara Shane: I think it's a good point, Michael. We'll try to use inclusive language. When we talk about Listo, our Spanish-language campaign, we always say citizens and residents, but you're right we should be careful.


Bob Robinson: Thanks, Lara, where does business fit into this? I see a lot of public sector involvement, but it seems a critical path to individuals would be through the work place.

Lara Shane: Bob, thanks for asking. You are right. We are launching an entire new campaign called Ready for Business at the end of September as part of National Preparedness Month. Ready for Business offers some tips for small to medium sized business about how they can prepare their own operations and how they can talk to their employees about individual preparedness. It covers things like business continuity planning, evacuation plans, communication plans, cybersecurity tips, etc. It will be an expansion of the Ready website as well as an accompanying advertising campaign. We developed Ready for Business with a business advisory panel and hope that it is a tool – some actionable steps business can take.


Barbara Fay: PLEASE consider annual! I was assuming it would be and we would have the lead time necessary to coordinate all the partners at the local level and vary the emphasis from year to year. There will be a lot to learn from this campaign and how effective it is. Thank you!

Lara Shane: Barbara, we definitely are working toward it. We just have to get those partners on board again. Thanks.


Jo Moss: I agree with Michael, terms like "citizen" can have a variety of meanings, as we discovered when doing disaster recovery community outreach. By the way, Ready for Business sounds like a great idea!

Lara Shane: Thanks. Do you all have preferred terms you use instead of citizen? Residents? What do you all like?

Burt Wallrich: I prefer residents for all the outreach work I do.

Tom Orlando: People works well in most cases. Community Residents when referring to a locality.

Jennifer Vuitel: Residents.

Michael Kiley-Zufelt: I would agree that "people" covers it well.

Jo Moss: Residents, individuals, people depending upon the context; we try to avoid the use of "victims."

Amy Sebring: Families.

JuanM Fraga: Community members.

Lara Shane: Thanks, everyone. I appreciate this input and find it helpful.


Lora Hainy: I've been a disaster educator both in the USA and overseas for the American Red Cross. This "Ready" campaign – is it a duplication of earlier materials from FEMA and American Red Cross or something completely new? I am always interested in new ideas, but if we are saying the same message and giving it different titles, doesn't this lead to confusion? We have been using some really good materials for kids, disabled, elderly, communities, and businesses. Is the new group reviewing any of these materials?

Lara Shane: We build on the foundation that FEMA and Red Cross have been building for years. We certainly don't want to mess with an effective message. What is new about Ready is the "communication megaphone" if you will. We are working on this with the Advertising Council who did Smokey the Bear, Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk, Rosie the Riveter and so on. What we are able to do is reach more people with the messages through the public service announcements, and the public relations outreach. It's definitely not reinventing the wheel, just delivering the message in more places, with more resources. The campaign has received $270 million in donated media value and has gotten 1.7 BILLION hits on the website so far.


Amy Sebring: Lara, are you aware of the new Interim Continuity of Operations (COOP) guidance for local governments? I hope you will incorporate it into your outreach materials.

Lara Shane: Yes, FEMA sent over the COOP information recently. I am looking at it. Thanks.


Jennifer Stephens: I am a little upset at some of the things I am seeing – like the lack of coordination between organizations and government within communities.

Lara Shane: I think the coordination has been tremendous. There is always more work to do, but we are working really hard to get these messages to the community level and to encourage everyone within communities to work together.


Jo Moss: I'm not part of Red Cross so this comment is not self serving. FEMA and Red Cross' work in the Family Preparedness Program and its offshoots are still some of the best stuff around. Kudos especially to Dr. Lopes.

Lara Shane: In closing, I just want to thank you all for your participation in the Forum. I really appreciate all of your comments and feedback. And I agree completely about kudos to Dr. Lopes. The Red Cross has been a very trusted advisor on all of these efforts.


Avagene Moore: That's all we have time for today. We greatly appreciate your efforts and time on our behalf today, Lara. We wish you great success in September with National Preparedness Month! Thank you!

Next week, Wednesday August 25, 12:00 Noon EDT, Gil Jamieson, Director, Program Coordination Division, Preparedness Directorate, DHS, will address the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Integration Center. Make plans now to join us next week.

Please stand by a moment while we make some quick announcements.

If you are not currently on our mailing list, and would like to get program announcements and notices of transcript availability, please see the Subscribe link on our home page.

The EIIP Virtual Forum is pleased to announce that we have two new Partners this month. They are:

The North Central Texas Council of Governments http://www.nctcog.org/ep/ with Christine Y. Jacobs, Emergency Preparedness Specialist, serving as our Point of Contact (POC); and

The POC from the following new Partner is here today, Asesores en Emergencia y Desastres (Mexico) http://www.asemde.com with POC, Juan Manuel Fraga Sastrias.

If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the "Partnership for You" link on our home page.

Thank you, Lara. Please give your kudos to Lara, everyone. We stand adjourned.