I remember the day well. I was alone that night, a young mother, living in Los Angeles, with infant twins and a 3 year old all sleeping soundly in their beds. The earth let out a huge groan and began to shake. Plates flew out of the cupboards shattering on the floor. Tree branches snapped and power lines were downed. I thought about grabbing my children and running outside but with all those power lines down, broken glass everywhere, and only two arms and three kids that just didn’t make sense. I was terrified, my mind racing. I had just experienced my first earthquake and had no idea what to do – no plan in place since I had moved from Chicago where earthquakes are virtually non-existent. I didn’t have an emergency plan in place for my family. I have since moved from LA to Louisville and I still don’t have a disaster/emergency plan in place. With man-made and natural disasters on the rise is imperative that we all have a family emergency plan in place that all family members know about in order to protect our loved ones.
During the next 6 months I will be a PULSE volunteer for the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) in NYC. Pulse is a GSK skills-based volunteer initiative where employees are matched to a non-profit organization for 3 or 6 months. The NCDP has partnered with Save the Children, funded by a grant from GSK, to develop a child focused disaster preparedness model with a strong emphasis on building long term community resilience. The goal is to develop a set of tools, guidance, and best practices that can utilized on a national level. I will be working on the development of this tool.
Each workday 69 million children are in schools or daycare. After Hurricane Katrina it took 7 months for the last child to be reunited with his family. Babies were separated from their parents for long periods of time. In the case of an unforeseen emergency it is imperative that we all have a disaster preparedness plan for our families that can be implemented in the event that we are separated from our loved ones. Please join me on this journey in keeping your families and our most venerable citizens, our children, safe.