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The Amerian Red Cross Offers ReadyRating

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
Courtesy of The American Red Cross. © 2015 The American National Red Cross. All rights reserved.

All photos in this post provided as a courtesy of The American Red Cross. © 2015 The American National Red Cross. All rights reserved.

We, at the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, frequently work side-by-side, with an iconic disaster relief agency – the American Red Cross. Although the agency is always at the front lines of a disaster and is best known in that regard, its mission extends beyond immediate relief into disaster preparedness and education, much like our own.

Why is disaster planning so important for business owners? According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses will not reopen following a disaster, a sobering statistic, which illustrates both the challenge in managing a small business and the severe impact disasters can have on otherwise potentially successful companies.

The American Red Cross Rating Program

Courtesy of The American Red Cross. © 2015 The American National Red Cross. All rights reserved.

ReadyRating is designed to help schools, companies, and other organizations prepare for disasters. This free service provides members with access to information about how to both evaluate and improve their disaster planning procedures and save lives… something that we strive to do through our own training modules.

The ReadyRating is promoted by agencies such as the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), an agency with which we are proud to partner. We are pleased to join agencies such as LAFD to encourage businesses to participate in the Red Cross program, in order to gauge and improve their disaster readiness. Free membership into ReadyRating provides users with a dashboard that helps them evaluate their level of preparedness. Customized feedback is based on assessment scores, as well as the ability to create an “Organization Manager” with linked member-accounts. The steps and recommendations found within ReadyRating are adopted from scientific research and expert opinions from noted industry professionals.

Courtesy of The American Red Cross. © 2015 The American National Red Cross. All rights reserved.

ReadyRating features a three-step process for participating members:

  1. Conduct an Assessment

Organizations can choose either a “ReadyGo” assessment or a “ReadyAdvance” assessment to determine preparedness. The ReadyGo 25-question version is basic, designed to help companies see the most critical steps they should undertake to best manage disasters. The ReadyAdvance plan is more in-depth, with 60 questions. More comprehensive in nature, ReadyAdvance results effectively measure the merits of an organization’s existing preparedness plan, and provides users with roadmaps for improving their existing plans.

The assessment contains five sections that score the preparedness level of the company, including level of current emergency planning, commitment to preparedness, knowledge of hazards, implementation of the plan, and resiliency of the community.

  1. Create a Well-Informed Emergency Plan

ReadyRating features a template generator that utilizes the company’s assessment information to create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), specific to the company. The plans are OSHA-compliant, which is a primary concern for businesses required to meet OSHA regulations.

  1. Leverage Expert Resources

Courtesy of The American Red Cross. © 2015 The American National Red Cross. All rights reserved.

The final component of the plan is to encourage businesses to utilize Red Cross resources such as emergency preparedness guides, checklists, and other tools. For example, the resource center on the Red Cross website includes disaster drill forms, emergency contact card templates, and a step-by-step guide for organizing a blood drive. The resources, including videos and guides, are designed to be actionable – offering clear advice to companies that want to strengthen their disaster planning.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

BE SAFE: How Social Media Saves Lives

Monday, February 14th, 2011
Globe Cloaked in Social Media Protective Banner

Social Media is not just for social interaction anymore.

While some might think that websites like Twitter are only good for tracking celebrity exploits, they are proving incredibly useful for disaster preparation and emergency management.
For example, FEMA is adopting social media websites to share information about disasters and coordination efforts. Created in response to the successful use social media following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the FEMA initiatives aim to harness the power of social media to spread life-saving, instantaneous information.

Social Media in Action

During the recent floods in Australia, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook were instrumental for organizing-efforts. The emergency services in Queensland relied on social media sites for real-time updates on conditions in different areas. This data was used to allocate limited resources and aided in overall disaster planning.

The Australia floods highlighted the particular strengths of Facebook and Twitter, the two most popular social sites. Twitter proved most valuable as a way to spread information very rapidly and widely. During the floods, there were an estimated 1,200 flood-related status updates to Twitter “Tweets” per hour. The short (140) character lengths and ability to quickly “follow” those who were posting pertinent information allowed many residents to stay safe.

Facebook was utilized for providing more detail and acting as a way to manage relief activities. One of example of this occurred when an area animal shelter was at risk of flooding. Facebook was used to find homes for all of the displaced animals.

In all instances of the use of social media in disasters, the public becomes a valuable resource for helping the efforts of emergency management professionals. Acting as “first responders,” the general public can provide immediate information which can be used to affect the routing of emergency supplies and other emergency management efforts.

For emergency management officials, it’s important to keep an eye on the information flowing from the social media universe. Any grossly erroneous information should be quickly rebutted from official sources since one downside to the speed of social media is that misinformation can proliferate. So it’s important to monitor the social conversation. According to a Red Cross survey, 69 percent of respondents fully expect emergency management agencies to actively monitor and respond to emergency requests via social media sites.

Another recent use of social media was during the January blizzard that affected the Midwest. In Chicago, road clearing management personnel posted real-time progress of plowing efforts using phones or tablet devices. The National Weather service was also involved, through its efforts in spreading alerts through Twitter and Facebook.

Social media use during the floods and other disasters also act as aggregators of public sentiment and concern. Officials can use social media data to prepare official videos or flyers that address particular needs.

Usage of social media is a great medium for members of the general public and official emergency agencies to work together for the common good. By responsibly using the platform, the public can quickly learn what is happening and where they can go to help, while emergency officials can discover where to send rescue teams and allocate resources.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Emergency Family Plan

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
Will you and your family be ready if disaster strikes?

Will you and your family be ready if disaster strikes?

Planning for an emergency is a project for the entire family. Get your children involved in preparedness to help them understand how important it is to be prepared and encourage them to remain calm under duress. Emergencies could, potentially, happen when you are away and the kids are home. So be sure the babysitter knows the emergency plans, as well.

Earthquakes. Floods. Fire. If one of these strikes, will your family be prepared?

The first step is to identify and focus on the types of events that might occur. Fire happens no matter where you live. Earthquakes are more regional, but remember; some places you wouldn’t think about have had earthquakes. Floods are more common in some areas than others. So, if your home is located in a floodplain, be sure you establish emergency plans to share with your relatives and neighbors.

So how exactly can you get your kids involved?

  • Do a home hazard scavenger hunt to identify dangerous objects. Check every chest of drawers and other large furniture to make sure everything is well-secured to a wall. What about paintings and other loose items? Imagine an earthquake. What could, potentially happen to your possessions?
  • Make an emergency kit! FEMA has a great online matching game that allows children to visualize the key components of an emergency kit. Don’t forget the flashlights and canned goods!
  • After you have squared away your kit, it is time to make a plan! Again, we recommend that you get your children involved. The plan should be written out. But you can also include some simple graphic designs, clip art or photos into the plan to make it easy for younger kids to understand. Here are some key points to cover.
  • Identifying information about each family member
  • Phone contact information. Provide multiple numbers including the addresses of relatives who live far away in case the emergency has knocked out local communications. Put copies of photos in the plan so they can be easily distributed if someone is missing.
  • Make sure everyone understands escape routes from the home and the group meeting area.
  • Large families can enlist older kids as “watchers” over the younger ones
  • Ready.gov has a good emergency plan template

After a disaster, you will need to make sure all of your family members are accounted for and healthy. Then, it’s time to contact agencies such as your local Red Cross and to keep watch on alerts from FEMA.

With proper planning, you can help ensure your family’s safety in case of real emergency. Involvement of all family members is crucial. So Allied Universal, Inc. recommends that you make your plan today. BE SAFE.