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Ready Arlington: Who’s Responsible for Emergency Preparedness?

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This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

The question flashes across a screen at a recent Personal & Family Emergency Preparedness workshop for Arlington Network for Community Readiness (ANChoR) volunteers. Participant responses split between the public, the government and community leaders. A collective groan, and then conversation, ensues as they’re told they’re all right — everyone has a role in preparedness.

We cannot prepare alone

Let’s take a look at the numbers: Arlington County has a population of 220,000, which goes up to 300,000 during the day. The Office of Emergency Management has six staff that dedicate a portion of their time to preparedness outreach and education. With those calculations, we would have to reach 4,236 residents per week for 52 weeks to prepare every resident. And this is not even counting the daytime, business population. Clearly this is not possible.

This is why our team of ANChoR volunteers is such a critical resource: they can help our staff extend our reach into the community. They help to host Preparedness Workshops in their communities, staff tables at fairs and community events and connect our office with neighborhoods and networks throughout the county.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Following Winter Storm Jonas last year, elderly and informed residents needed help shoveling out their walks so they could receive critical services. While everyone needs to develop a network and plan for themselves, ANChoR volunteers are asked to be a critical part of that network. Volunteers are asked to meet their neighbors before a disaster, and to check on neighbors before and after storms to make sure they’re prepared and okay.

Volunteers do basic preparedness and response in their community, like adopting their local fire hydrant, bus stop or storm drain to keep clear during storms and prevent flooding in their neighborhood.

Many hands make work lighter

When a disaster does strike, we rely on many hands to make a response run smoothly, including ANChoR volunteers. Volunteers train to support the Emergency Operations Center, Watch Desk, Volunteer Reception Center shelters and more.

Volunteers may provide administrative help in the OEM office or serve as controllers and actors during exercises.

Kudos & Thanks

This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we’d like to recognize and thank the Arlington Network for Community Readiness, as well as all of the emergency support volunteer programs, including the Community Emergency Response Team and Medical Reserve Corps, for their time and service. Their dedication helps make our community safer and more prepared.

Interested in the Arlington Network for Community Readiness or how to help during an emergency? Go to ReadyArlington.com for more information.

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