Preparing for the worst

Students on the Queens campus were given a new perspective on emergency preparedness last Tuesday as a representative from the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) visited the University to give an “NYC Ready” presentation.

Corey Acri, a graduate of St. John’s Law School and a member of the legal staff at OEM, delivered the informative hour-long presentation as part of the NYC Ready Program, established by the City of New York to educate its residents on how to prepare, respond, and recover from an emergency that could occur both at home or in the workplace.

Acri explained the importance of the lecture by saying that “you can’t help others unless you can help yourself.”

Acri suggests that one of the best ways to prepare for a possible disaster is to create an official plan with other members of the household. He said that the plan should highlight two meeting places, one outside the home and the other outside the neighborhood such as a library or a community center, in case evacuation is necessary. Acri stressed that everyone in the household should know the phone number as well as the address of the second meeting place. If an emergency occurs while inside the home or within the neighborhood, it is best to share all possible exit routes with other members of the household beforehand as well as to practice these routes regularly.

According to Acri, it is also important to know someone who lives out of state who can be called during an emergency. This is necessary especially when all phone circuits in New York City are busy because of the emergency at hand.

He also suggested that people prepare a “go-bag,” which should be packed in a light easy-to-carry container and kept in a convenient location near the door at all times. Items in this “go-bag” should include copies of important documents, extra sets of car keys and house keys, cash, bottled water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-operated radio, medication, a first-aid kit, and other necessary items. The “go-bag” should be monitored throughout the year and kept stocked at all times of the year.

Acri reminded those in attendance that utility disruptions may also be a dangerous occurrence. For example, if one smells gas, he instructed not to light matches, use a phone, or turn on any lights or electrical devices. Any of these can spark a fire. In this event, he suggests that one should open windows and call 911 immediately.

At one point, Acri also listed the possible disasters one might face when living in New York City, beginning with the most common and ending with the least likely to occur, mentioning events such as severe weather disasters, disease outbreaks and building collapses. He also highlighted important steps to take when faced with each of these disasters, adding that “if you are prepared for any of these disasters, you are most likely prepared for a terrorist attack.”

Acri reminded the audience that terrorist attacks can come in various forms, which is why one should be prepared for all of the possible disasters he listed.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Acri made time available for questions and handed out booklets with these points and other information regarding emergency preparedness, as well information on how to become a Ready NYC volunteer and how to make a donation to the program.

To get information regarding the program or to contact OEM, visit