The stylized letters "EM" are used by state and local emergency managers as an icon to help make people more aware of what emergency management does to protect lives and property.
"We think it's important to have a recognizable symbol," said Bruce Baughman, former president of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). "If people see that symbol on websites, on the sides of government vehicles, on crates of emergency relief supplies, and on preparedness material, they'll more easily recognize the efforts to make their lives safer and more secure and hopefully become more involved in the process. We would like people pay closer attention to what is or is not being done to protect them and hold the authorities accountable."
Baughman continued, "We hope people will become more familiar with all aspects of emergency management, particularly preparedness. People should know if their local, state, and federal emergency management agencies are prepared and even insist that they have adequate resources to fulfill their missions. Questioning authorities on readiness should be done before a disaster strikes and not as part of a post-disaster inquiry into what went wrong."
Another symbol for catastrophes, the '50s- and '60s-era "civil defense" icon is rarely used now. The letters "C" and "D" housed inside a triangle provided a universal sign of the efforts to protect citizens against a nuclear war. Perhaps most remembered is the sign for fallout shelters once found on thousands of well-protected buildings across the country. Three black triangular blades on a bright yellow background would make it easy for people searching for protection from nuclear fallout to spot in the midst of chaos. These signs still exist on some older buildings. The old civil defense symbols were used in public service campaigns for the same reason the EM symbol has been introduced: to inspire people to become more involved in their own protection and preparedness. But not since these cold war relics has there been any universal visual associated with the field that is so critical to life, safety, and security.
Not only should people be aware of the preparedness efforts of their government, but they should also pay attention to the funding emergency programs by the White House, Congress and state legislatures and voice their concern when emergency management budgets are cut and readiness becomes an issue.
An informed and active public will make the country stronger and more able to withstand the ravages of nature or the destruction from man-made catastrophe.
|One Symbol Uniting Federal, State, and Local Emergency Management|
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