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Building a Ready and Resilient Nation

Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training in New York/Photo larryosan Flickr Over the past few months I have been laying out the five main areas of responsibility of the Department.

In July, I outlined our approach to our first priority – countering the threat of a terrorist attack. In August, I spoke about the new approach we’re taking to border security.

Today, in remarks at the American Red Cross, I’m speaking about another important mission: readiness and resilience.

Our nation may be better prepared than we were before 9/11. But there is much more we can – and should – do. And to get there, we must treat our nation’s preparedness as a shared responsibility, one where everyone has a role to play.

Civilians are usually the first to arrive in a crisis, and history shows that they are critical in those important first minutes. And these citizen responders can be an even more potent force by:
  • Taking CPR training from the Red Cross
  • Training with a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
  • Knowing when to take shelter or evacuate
  • Pre-planning evacuation routes and where to meet after a disaster strikes
If a disaster struck your hometown, that training, those skills, and those plans would free up first responders and emergency personnel to focus on those most in need.

So today, I’m calling on all Americans, across the country, to do two things.

First, take these basic steps:
  1. get an emergency kit;
  2. make a family reunification plan; and
  3. become informed about the types of emergencies your community is most likely to encounter.
Second, I’m asking all of us who are in book clubs, prayer groups, school boards, alumni associations, or other community organizations, simply to raise your hand and ask, “What’s our plan?”

Together, we can build a culture of readiness and resilience, and together we can build a more secure future.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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