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September is National Preparedness Month

Mary Basiliere (center) supports canteen services at the memorial for the firefighters lost in the plant explosion in West, Texas, in April 2013.

American Red Cross Senior Station Manager Mary Basiliere, a preparedness expert, arrived in her new position at Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti just in time for National Preparedness Month.

In its tenth year, National Preparedness Month, sponsored by FEMA, is a nationwide effort encouraging individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together and take action to prepare for emergencies. Red Cross chapters and military installations around the world are planning events to help people develop their disaster plans, get information on how to be prepared, and learn more about what their community’s plans are for emergencies.

From Iraq to Djibouti

Having served the Red Cross in Iraq and Japan preparing military installations for disaster, Basiliere’s work in the Horn of Africa will focus on First Aid and CPR training, instructor training and disaster preparedness activities, such as non-combative evacuation operations. She will also support emergency communication services, morale activities and visit service members in the hospital.

“If my going there helps reunite a family during a family crisis back home, awesome. If someone I taught CPR to saves a life, that’s even better,” Basiliere said of her six-month deployment to Djibouti.

Basiliere served in Iraq twice during Operation Iraqi Freedom supporting the military while keeping a constant eye out for incoming fire. In March 2011, she was serving on Yokota Air Base in Japan when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck.

Just weeks prior to the disaster, she coordinated a week-long class training dozens of military members and civilians in disaster preparedness skills, such as how to run a shelter and how to manage the Safe and Well website.

Basiliere firmly believes that the training helped the U.S. installations in Japan be in a better position to respond to the devastation. People jumped in and started helping “from the minute the ground stopped shaking,” she said.

Easy Steps to Get Prepared for an Emergency

The Red Cross offers a variety of programs and resources to help people get prepared for an emergency:

  • Use the quick and easy Be Red Cross Ready online training program to beef up your preparedness plans and skills
  • Download free Red Cross preparedness apps, such as the Red Cross First Aid, Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake and Wildfire apps.
  • Take a First Aid and CPR/AED class
  • Prepare your workplace by taking advantage of the free Ready Rating™program.
  • Sign up to give blood, if you are eligible. When an emergency occurs, it is the blood already on the shelves that is available to help patients who need it.
  • About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.