News | Sept. 8, 2021

Tips for emergency management: Make a plan

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

Be prepared. That is the advice newly installed DLA Philadelphia Emergency Management Specialist Donnell Riley has for employees of the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support during National Preparedness Month, as many continue to work from home.

Riley, who joined the DLA Philadelphia team January 2021 while mass telework is in effect, he has not had the opportunity to meet many team members in-person, but said the current environment doesn’t merit different preparation – it enhances the need.

“Now, you’re in the middle of it. You’re going to have to deal with. So just having a go-bag is important.”

This year’s NPM theme is “Prepare to Protect,” and step one, according to Riley and the Federal Emergency management Agency’s website, is to make a plan.

“Understand what you would do in an emergency,” Riley said. “You’re home now. You’re going to feel the full brunt of it, because now you’re in the space where it’s going to happen.”

Planning involves thinking of what you and your family might need in an emergency, making a disaster kit, or “go bag,” consisting of items you may need and exercising the plan.

“People are not always home when a disaster happens; they’re at work or the kids are at school,” Riley said. “Now, you’re in the middle of it. You’re going to have to deal with. So just having a go-bag is important.”

Some employees, like Kevin Burza, Subsistence chief of the standardization & cataloging branch, have realized the need to plan while experiencing the challenges posed by long-term closures of schools and daycare in favor of things like virtual learning during the pandemic.

“Anything can and will happen,” Burza said. “Working from home, there’s no formal response plan like we’d have at work or like the kids’ school would have. It’s on me and my wife.”

In addition to planning, Riley recommends routine and enduring preparations such as: checking smoke detectors and using 10-year lithium batteries in them, identify fire evacuation routes and meeting points and regularly maintaining kits.

“Sometimes we build a kit, ‘set it and forget it,’ and it’s just sitting there until you need it. Since I’ve been home, I went through my kit and realized that all the potable water I had was expired. It’s little things like that,” Riley said.

Prior to joining DLA Riley was a former security officer for Fort Hamilton, New York and emergency manager with the American Red Cross where he assisted in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and welcomes any questions from employees on how they can better plan to protect themselves and their families, he said.