Preparedness is a shared responsibility across the nation. Individuals, families, communities, and all levels of government have responsibilities in ensuring their own safety and the safety of others.
Major disasters and emergencies can strike quickly and without warning, forcing families to evacuate their neighborhoods or confining them to their homes. These incidents stress a community's collective abilities and resources to respond, but they also offer an opportunity to assess the progress made in achieving national preparedness. They reveal where the strengths are in delivering aid and where gaps remain.
Every day across the United States, acts of planned violence are carried out against innocent people simply going about their lives. Tragic incidents like the Pulse Nightclub attack, which claimed the lives of 49 people, underscore the need for a national conversation about law enforcement policies, practices, and training for handling acts of mass violence and terrorism.
Evaluations of law enforcement response to incidents like Pulse show that developing partnerships before an event is critical to a successful response. Additionally, communication with the public plays a vital role, and meeting the mental health needs of officers involved is critical.
Incidents of mass violence and terrorism, including mass shootings and bombings, present unique challenges to the communities in which they occur. The Office for Victims of Crime has developed the Helping Victims of Mass Violence & Terrorism online toolkit, which provides guidance and resources to help communities develop a comprehensive victim assistance plan that can be incorporated into an emergency response plan.
National Preparedness Month is recognized every September and serves as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of emergency preparedness. It's a chance to encourage all Americans to better prepare their homes and communities for emergencies and to recognize the contributions made by our nation's emergency response personnel.
In recognition of National Preparedness Month, NCJRS offers this information for communities, first responders, and those who wish to volunteer before, during, or after an incident. To learn more, visit the following pages for additional resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: