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Don't Panic, Prepare

The purpose of terrorism is to make people afraid. There are more weapons of terrorism than germs and chemicals and explosives; there is also pervasive fear, rumor, uncertainty, anxiety, and panic. This program is a basic reminder that New York City takes the threat of terror seriously; it's also a way of letting citizens gain a better understanding of how city agencies are dealing with the possibility of another terrorist attack. It's important that New Yorkers understand how the city responds to emergencies of every kind, and that they take basic steps to prepare themselves and their families for emergency situations... whether caused by an act of terrorism, or an act of nature.

Photo of John T. Odermatt with Rafael Pi Roman
OEM Commissioner
John T. Odermatt with
Rafael Pi Roman
The Office of Emergency Management

In the event of an emergency, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) coordinates the response of city agencies, as well as private groups, from the banking industry to the health care infrastructure. With the help of Commissioner John T. Odermatt and his staff, we get a look at how the city has used the lessons of September 11 to improve the functions of the OEM.

What is a dirty bomb? What is a chemical attack like? How can I tell if there's a biological threat? What is the city doing to prevent a terrorist attack from happening again? How prepared are the city's hospitals to deal with these possibilities? Who will tell us what to do if the city is targeted again?

For more information visit the Web site of the Office of Emergency Management, and of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Visit the website of the Center for Disease Control for details about various public health risks associated with terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security maintains a new, comprehensive website with suggestions for creating a communication plan, an emergency kit, and information about some of the tools of terror that have been in the news.

Dr. Angelo Aquista, a guest in the studio portion of this show, has just published THE SURVIVAL GUIDE: WHAT TO DO IN BIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL, OR NUCLEAR EMERGENCY. For more information go to

Photo of Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams of the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross

The New York Chapter of the American Red Cross has a wealth of useful information about how to be more ready for an emergency, and how to prepare your entire family in the case of any civil crisis. At their weekly preparedness classes, Red Cross instructors explain how to create a family communication plan, how to select a basic kit to carry all the time, and how to personalize kits for individual needs.

Preparing for the Unexpected

What is a reasonable level of preparation? What is the one thing everyone should carry all the time? How do you know when to evacuate a building? Why are stairs safer than elevators? Why is it important to have a contact out of state that your whole family can get in touch with in the event of an emergency? How can you find your way out of the subway safely, and why should you follow the directions of train personnel? Why is thinking about and anticipating terrifying events similar to receiving a vaccination? How can you advocate at your apartment building, office, and school for better preparedness education?

For general information visit the Web site of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross has also made available to the public:
A list of guidelines with information on how to adjust your behavior when there's a heightened risk of an attack.

A pamphlet with details on how to prepare for the unexpected.

Steps for developing a disaster plan for your family.

Learn how to assemble a Family Disaster Supplies Kit.

Register online for Disaster Training for Volunteers, a free class on what to do in an emergency.

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Photo of paper that read Disaster Plan
Photo of Abigail Adams teaching a Red Cross Class
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Preparing for the Unexpected:
Abigail Adams of the American Red Cross goes over simple steps to prepare for an emergency.

Photo of a personal disaster kit
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Personal Disaster Kits: The necessary emergency supplies everyone should have at work, at home, and with them at all times.

Emergency Management

Photo at Emergency Management
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The Commissioner:
Rafael Pi Roman interviews John T. Odermatt, New York City's commissioner of emergency management.

Working at the office of Emergency Management
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The Response Team:
Inside the workings of the Office of Emergency Management with Commissioner Odermatt; Michael Lee, who is Director of the Watch Command; and Ed Gabriel, Deputy Commissioner of Preparedness.

Tips on evacuation

Photo of James Kennedy
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High Rise Evacuation:
James Kennedy, former FDNY Lieutenant and current fire safety consultant, explains how to safely escape tall buildings.

Photo of person learning at Red Cross Seminar
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Subway Tips:
James Kennedy goes over things people should know about surviving subway emergencies.

Major funding has been provided by the New York Community Trust and HIP.

Additional support provided by The Norman & Rosita Winston Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

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