In a joint effort to stress the importance of disaster preparedness and encourage families to make or update their emergency plans, representatives with the American Red Cross, FEMA and Verizon gathered on September 27th to hold this National Preparedness Month (NPM) event in Fairfield.
Being all too familiar with the after-effects of disasters, the three organizations reminded participants about the devastation caused by last year’s flooding following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, as well as the freak October snowstorm that left thousands in New Jersey without power for days.
The event highlighted many of the technological tools, equipment and know-how that can be used to help people communicate, be more self-sufficient and better informed during disasters.
Matt Goldfeder, senior director with Red Cross Health & Safety Product Management, showcased the Red Cross apps available for iPhone and Android devices – First Aid App, Hurricane App and Earthquake App – all free to download to have expert step-by-step advice for emergencies and critical information during disasters available at your fingertips. The apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
Paul Sullivan, the region president for Verizon New Jersey, discussed the importance of having a family emergency plan, including the need to establish how to communicate with family and loved ones during an emergency.
Verizon displayed their 53 foot-long Mobile Communications Calling Center. The vehicle, one of 12 nationwide, is deployed to affected neighborhoods when disasters strike and is outfitted with 24 individual stations that each have a VolP phone, Ethernet port and an electrical outlet. Community members affected by the disaster are able to use the mobile unit to make local, long-distance and international calls, charge mobile devices, as well as access the Internet and send or receive faxes free of charge.
A team from Verizon Wireless offered demonstrations of the Red Cross mobile apps and taught participants how to prepare their mobile devices for an emergency.
David Musick, director, National Preparedness Division, FEMA Region II, discussed how FEMA is currently implementing a Presidential Policy Directive concerning national preparedness and how the initiative involves setting a national goal and developing a national system of preparedness. This national goal, he added, will start with a single step – individual preparedness.
As a show of support for this important message about preparedness, the room was filled with distinguished guests including Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Chairwoman, NJ Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Preparedness, who also presented the Red Cross and Verizon with a Legislative Proclamation officially recognizing their efforts; Phillip Alagia, Chief of Staff with the office of Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo; Essex County Sherriff Armando Fontoura; SFC Mario Sinatra Jr. with the New Jersey State Police; Mayor Carey Pilato of Bound Brook; former Mayor of Manville Angelo Corridino; and Fairfield Council President Joseph Ciselli.
Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO with the American Red Cross North Jersey Region, thanked all for attending to support National Preparedness Month and expressed sincere gratitude to the Verizon Foundation and to the many Verizon employees in New Jersey and across the country for their continued support of American Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts to help shelter, feed and provide emotional support to the people who suffer through these devastating disasters.