The American Red Cross today announced a newly designed website, ReadyRating.org, to help businesses, schools and other organizations better prepare for emergencies. The Ready Rating™ national launch event, held this morning at the Red Cross national headquarters, was attended by government officials, business groups and Red Cross partners in preparedness.
Ready Rating is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that helps a business or school measure how ready they are to deal with emergencies, and gives customized feedback on how they can improve their efforts.
Schools and businesses may face a number of emergencies that could disrupt their operations, ranging from natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods to outbreaks of illness such as the flu. The Ready Rating Program can help them feel more confident about the safety of their employees and students.
"Emergencies can strike without warning and unfortunately, we have many real-life examples here and abroad from just the past few weeks that remind us of the importance of being prepared – whether it is the Japan earthquake and tsunami, flooding in the Midwest, or the record number of tornadoes that devastated Alabama and other communities throughout the South." said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the Red Cross. "Everyone needs to play a role in disaster preparedness, and Ready Rating helps businesses and organizations take action to understand if they are ready for an emergency."
Ready Rating begins with members completing an online comprehensive self-assessment at ReadyRating.org. Upon completion, every organization gets a customized scorecard which evaluates how prepared they are and steps they can take to improve their readiness planning. The assessment covers items from hazard vulnerability to continuity of operations and employee readiness. Ready Rating is also consistent with Private Sector or PS-Prep Standards developed by the Department of Homeland Security.
"When we give organizations good information, people step up to the challenge to prepare and respond," said Brian Kamoie, Senior Director for Preparedness Policy, National Security Staff at the White House. He added that the nation needs to use as many channels as possible to reach people and since people spend a majority of their days at work or in school, the Ready Rating program is an ideal way to reach them.
Ready Rating also encourages businesses and schools to work with their employees, students and families to get prepared at home. A 2009 Red Cross survey* showed that 51 percent of Americans have experienced at least one emergency situation where they lost utilities for at least three days, had to evacuate, could not return home or communicate with family members. Although 89 percent of those surveyed believe it is important to be prepared for emergencies, far fewer are actually taking the steps necessary to prepare.
The launch event featured a panel discussion with companies and organizations that have used the Ready Rating program.
By implementing the Ready Rating program at work, "employees have become more aware of what they need to do in their personal lives to become more prepared," said Suresh Shenoy, executive vice president at Information Management Consultants, Inc., a Virginia based consulting and technology company.
Ready Rating is designed for those who are in the beginning stages of planning for emergencies as well as those who have already done so and want confirmation on their preparedness level. It will give these groups ideas of what they can do to prepare or what they can do to better prepare themselves for the next emergency or disaster.
The program began with a successful pilot in nine cities with a $2.1 million grant from Anheuser-Busch. Sam's Club is now supporting Ready Rating™ by providing $500,000 to help bring the program to additional cities. The program has been revised with an enhanced web site that can be used across the country by schools, businesses and other organizations.
"This is a game-changing preparedness program," said Vanessa Foster, Senior Director, Community Affairs, Anheuser-Busch. "These are our communities and we have a collective responsibility to keep them safe."
"Sam's Club serves nearly 600,000 small business owners daily throughout the nation, and we see firsthand the devastating impact a natural disaster or other unplanned event can have on their operations," said Mike Turner, senior vice president, Membership. "We are pleased to be able to support the Red Cross in their efforts to help small businesses better prepare so their families and customers can continue to rely on them in the event of a crisis."
More information about this new preparedness program for schools and businesses can be found at www.ReadyRating.org.