AJ Schall, Director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency discussed his agency’s work to protect not just lives, but livelihoods in the event of emergency. We discussed the potential disasters that could strike the region, from fire, flooding or hurricanes, to man-made emergencies, including chemical spills, biological hazards and train derailments. He discussed their mission, to prepare, respond and recover. He spoke about their recent earthquake drill now that Delaware is termed a medium risk category. It stressed the need to prepare and plan evacuation routes, medical support and temporary housing. He discussed the need for citizens to be prepared, what would you do if you had to leave your home? Would you have gas in the car, important documents or prescriptions you need, a system to contact family or a safe meeting place planned. He suggested keeping an emergency kit in the car or a tote prepared to grab on the run. AJ advised us to consider what we would need to shelter in place, water, food and other supplies for family and pets, necessary medicines and a radio. He covered the agencies DEMA works with to coordinate recovery and rescue operations, including local, state and federal and civic resources such as the Red Cross, Team Rubicon and Boots on the Ground, and we discussed the aftermath of a disaster, getting people back to work to keep the local economy afloat and reducing the impact on the infrastructure.
We also discussed the smaller disasters that can be avoided, home fires and accidents and he offered seasonal safety tips for items such as kerosene lamps and stoves and turkey deep-fryers. His biggest concern communications – listen for instructions, be ready to follow official requests to stay in or to flee. Finally, a reminder to those with special needs or mobility issues, register with the state Emergency Preparedness Voluntary Registry so that emergency crews can help you before it becomes critical or too dangerous.