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Emergency Preparedness Discussed with Special Guest Lt. Gen. Russell Honore' on Upfront with Jesse Jackson

January 30, 2009

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore', U.S. Army (retired), who led the Army's respnse to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, was the special guest this week on Upfront with Jesse Jackson. After dealing with the lack of preparedness for these disasters, Honore' said at his retirement that he wants to spend the rest of this life creating a "culture of preparedness" to prevent another post-disaster disaster. The program focused on what preparedness means and how to achieve it.

According to the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, only 7 percent of Americans have taken the recommended actions to prepare for unexpected disasters. The Red Cross recommends citizens make a kit, containing at least three days worth of food and supplies, make a plan, and stay informed.

Joining Rev. Jackson for the program were Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health; Vince Davis, manager of regional preparedness for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago; and Rev. Dr. Janette Wilson, director of human relations and community intervention for Chicago Public Schools.

The Illinois Faith Based Emergency Preparedness Initiative was discussed. Its objectives are to:

  • Instill a culture of preparedness in our local communities
  • Identify and address gaps in preparedness
  • Educate on the basics of risks associated with pandemic influenza
  • Assist in building community resources capability
  • Facilitate relationship-building between public and private sectors
  • Empower our communities to prepare together
  • "For every $1 you spend on preparedness, you save $9 on response," Lt. General Honore' pointed out. The State of Illinois, through the Illinois Department of Public Health, has partnered with the Broadcast Ministers Alliance and Heath Care Consortium of Illinois to develop the Illinois Faith-Based Emergency Preparedness Initiative.

    "It is essential that we bring people together," said Dr. Arnold. "We have to provide an educational platform that is reinforced from kindergarten to college."

    The results of a 2006 survey showed that the Midwest is the region of the country that is least prepared to handle emergencies or natural disasters. "Many people living in the city of Chicago have a sense of apathy and think the Midwest is disaster proof," said Davis.

    Wilson stressed the importance of practicing evacuation procedures in the event of a fire or other emergency. "Ministers can do drills during or after their church service. We cannot forget about the elderly during these times as well."

    To learn more about the Illinois Faith-Based Emergency Preparedness Initiative visit www.planready.illinois.gov or call 1-866-779-9832.

    Upfront airs on at 9 p.m. CST on the Word Network.