by Ed Beakley
Essential Elements of Information for a Culture of Preparedness
“Man is a peculiarly constructed animal who cannot read the handwriting on the wall, until his back is up against it.” Unknown
TAMPA – Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, speaking at the America Association of State Troopers Law Enforcement Training Conference asked law enforcement officials Monday if they’re ready for a hurricane.
From the St. Petersburg Times: (Inpart) Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the man widely credited with restoring order to a chaotic post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, has a word of warning for Floridians who believe they have hurricanes figured out.
“The people in Florida think they’re smarter than the people in Louisiana,” the retired Army general who commanded Joint Task Force Katrina said Monday, addressing law enforcement officers at Tampa Airport Marriott. “No, you’re not. You just haven’t been hit by a Katrina.”
Speaking before the National Law Enforcement Training Conference, which goes through Wednesday (August 12, 2009), Honore said complacency is the greatest challenge communities face when it comes to disaster preparedness.
His new book, SURVIVAL: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters, (Atria Books, 304 pages, $25.00) – part memoir, part how-to manual – focuses on the responsibility of the individual to be ready in the face of disaster.
Besides raising the flag over hurricane readiness, Honore predicted the H1N1 flu, or swine flu, will pose an increasingly significant challenge to the United States in the coming months and year, especially as football season begins, drawing large crowds together on a regular basis.
“We’re not ready,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve spent the time getting the country ready and I don’t think the country has spent the time getting the states ready.”
Local governments, he said, need to start warning citizens now about how they will administer vaccinations to various populations and age groups once a high-demand vaccine is developed and, more than likely, is in short supply.
Additionally, there needs to be a culture shift in the American workplace, he said. Employees who experience symptoms associated with the pandemic strain should be encouraged to stay at home without risk of being penalized by their bosses.
“We’ve been talking about this for years,” he said of the pandemic. “This is no stranger to people familiar with pandemic scenarios. But what we haven’t done is talk to the public.