Law enforcement, disaster officials urge residents to be prepared

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

Austin Daily Herald

March is Red Cross Month.

The irony is unmistakable: War and other disasters have always seen the International Red Cross come to the aid of victims everywhere.

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That's why the Mower County chapter of the American Red Cross has joined 1,000 other chapters in the "Together We Prepare" campaign.

According to Elaine Hansen, executive director of the Mower County chapter, approximately 1.2 million Red Cross volunteers are ready to help in the event of a nationwide disaster.

Locally, the Mower County chapter's Together We Prepare effort includes the following five steps:

(1) Make a family disaster plan.

(2) Build a disaster supplies kit.

(3) Get training in such areas as First Aid, CPR, automated external defibrillator and community disaster education.

(4) Volunteer to assist the Mower County chapter of the American Red Cross.

(5) Give blood to ensure a supply that meets all needs all the time.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, the heroic efforts of first responders have not been forgotten. That example is what spurs the Red Cross' own volunteers to prepare for another emergency, Hansen said.

Looking ahead, the Mower County chapter will host Safety Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. March 29 at Oak Park Mall.

There will be family activities in the shopping center's community room, plus an opportunity to learn about the many different roles for Red Cross volunteers.

For more information about the Mower County chapter of the American Red Cross, call 437-4589 or e-mail

Austin police chief speaks cautiously

Austin Police Chief Paul M. Philipp said the Austin Police Department has received "very few inquiries" about preparation for a terrorist attack or other war-related emergency in the city.

However, the police chief also said the department has booklets, brochures and Web sites citizens may access for more information.

Philipp encourages citizens to be informed and prepared to the "best of their own individual abilities."

"Nobody believes Austin is a first-line target for terrorists attacks," Philipp said. "We don't want people to overreact or panic."

The Austin Police Department recommends those people who feel the necessity to do more could create a personal survival kit for their homes, containing enough supplies to last three days.

His personal words of advice to citizens was to "keep everything in perspective."

Meanwhile, Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi took a slightly different perspective on preparedness.

Amazi, who is a former county emergency management director, said, "Know your neighbors. Know who they are. More vigilance is important all the time, whether it's crime-prevention or dealing with a possible terrorist attack."

Wayne Madson is Mower County's new emergency management director. On Wednesday, Madson was meeting with state officials, concerning the submission of grant applications for funds for emergency preparedness initiatives.

The new emergency preparedness director is also Mower County's veteran service officer.

Madson, who is a former career U.S. Air Force airman and Mower County jailer, now will direct Mower County's response to the possibility of terrorist attacks and other emergencies related to the Middle East conflict.

The Austin Daily Herald newsroom can be reached at 434-2231