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Homeland Security

19 February 2003

Transcript: Homeland Security Department Launches "Ready Campaign"

(Secretary Tom Ridge outlines steps "to build a more prepared nation")
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge launched the "Ready Campaign"
Citizen Preparedness Initiative February 19 to publicize simple steps
U.S. citizens can take to prepare for a possible terrorist attack.
The announcement marks the beginning of a multi-year public service
advertising campaign.
Addressing the Cincinnati Chapter of the Red Cross, Ridge said "The
threat of terrorism forces us to make a choice. We can be afraid or we
can be ready. And today America's families declare we will not be
afraid and we will be ready."
As part of the "Ready Campaign," Ridge encouraged families to prepare
an emergency supply kit, make a family communication plan and be
informed about how different potential terror attacks require
different responses.
He called on citizens to embrace an attitude of preparedness, urging
them to visit the new ready.gov Web site or call 1-800-BEREADY
[1-800-237-3239] to receive printed information about how to prepare a
response to potential threats.
"Every day we apprehend, disarm or destroy terrorists right where they
live. Every day we disrupt their networks and reduce their funding.
Every day states and counties and cities become better prepared. And
when the threat level is raised, so is our level of readiness. You can
count on it. That's what the professionals are trained to do, and
that's what they are doing."
Ridge said that the Ready Campaign is not just a response to
terrorism, but a deterrent, adding that a nation of alert and prepared
citizens who refuse to panic is "a terrorist's greatest fear."
Ridge urged all Americans join the "history-making effort" and follow
the simple steps in the "Ready Campaign" to prepare against possible
terror threats.
Following is a transcript of Ridge's remarks:
(begin transcript)
Cincinnati Chapter of the Red Cross
"READY CAMPAIGN" Citizen Preparedness Initiative
Cincinnati, Ohio
February 19, 2003
Remarks by Secretary Tom Ridge at the Announcement of the Ready
SECRETARY RIDGE: Thank you very much. Thank you for that warm welcome
on a cold winter day. It's nice to be back in Cincinnati. People have
asked why we've had a tendency to visit this community and this region
two or three times during the past year, and I'm proud to say that we
find that the citizens, the elected officials, the volunteer community
and the city of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and the region are doing
things right, and we just like to continue to look to you for modeling
as to the way we hope things can be done around the country. So thanks
for that warm greeting.
And thank you, Marty, for those very kind words, and for all that the
American Red Cross continues to do to get Americans prepared.
Let me also thank our dedicated partners who've made this campaign
possible, the Ad Council, the Sloan Foundation, and your member
agencies that have worked around the clock to produce this excellent
and critically needed public information campaign. I do want to
mention the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association, whose members
have committed the content of this program to over 500 million
directories that will be distributed around the country this year.
We've got a great team, and we're working together.
I also want to thank the Hamilton County Citizen Corps Council, your
community leaders and first responders. The Citizen Corps has built
very aggressive, a very active preparedness model, a role model for
others. Well done. And thank you for your time this morning, and I
look forward to continuing our conversation after these remarks.
I do want to recognize someone else I brought with me from Washington:
John Bridgeland. I think everybody knows John. If you don't, he's an
assistant to the President, working on America's Freedom Corps,
Citizen Corps. He has fathered many of these institutions and we're
proud to bring him back home. He's a proud son of Cincinnati and we're
glad to have him with us.
I want to speak today, not just as Secretary of Homeland Security, but
as a father and as a husband. As families and as a nation, we now live
with a sense of unease, an uncertainty, that those of us who grew up
after the "Greatest Generation" have rarely, rarely known. And, of
course, this uncertainty, this sense of unease, is heightened during
heightened national alerts.
The sense of uncertainty steals some of the innocence and some of the
security that we painstakingly try to build for our children. It's not
always easy to know the right thing to say or the right thing to do.
We all want to stay aware and we all want to stay informed. And, at
the same time, we do not want to surrender to fear. We'll never
surrender to fear, because fear is the terrorists' most effective
So the threat of terrorism forces us to make a choice. We can be
afraid, or we can be ready. And today, America's families declare, we
will not be afraid and we will be ready. (Applause.)
So today, we launch the Ready Campaign. Its goal: To build a more
prepared nation, one individual, one family, one neighborhood, one
community at a time. We're launching this initiative through a
multi-year, multi-media information and public service advertising
campaign, donated by several private sector partners, reaching every
single citizen in our great country. Our message is this: We cannot
always predict an attack; we can always prepare.
There are simple things you and your family can do to prepare for the
unlikely but possible terrorist incident, namely: Make a kit, make a
plan, and be informed.
First, an emergency supply kit. We would encourage people to start
with three days' worth of non-perishable food and water. Remember,
even if your community, if your home, if your neighborhood is not
directly affected by an attack, your life or daily routine may be
disrupted. You may need to shelter at home for a couple of days. Maybe
the roads and stores would be closed, the electricity might be turned
off, maybe your water supply will be interrupted. So we just want you
to be prepared for that eventuality. Have some flashlights, battery
powered radios, first aid kit and medicines. I think you understand
the drill, an emergency supply kit. You can pull a lot of those things
right off the shelf or right out of your closets right now, put them
in one place, and go about the business of being a spouse and a parent
and doing what you do, and that's enjoy living in the greatest and
freest country in the world.
Oh, and yes, I have to say, stash away the duct tape. (Laughter.)
Don't use it. Stash it away. And that pre-measured plastic sheeting
for future -- and I emphasize future -- use. Experts tell us that a
safe room inside your house or inside your apartment can help protect
you from airborne contaminants for several hours. And that could be
just enough time for that chemical agent to be blown away. That's the
reason it is included on the web site and included in the emergency
supply kit. Probably won't need it but, in case you do, you'll have it
available. We would not recommend these measures if they did not make
a difference. All the same, we hope you never have to use them.
Second, make a family communication plan. This is very important.
After all, think about this. How often is every member of your family
in your house at the same time? You're right, if your family is at all
like mine -- and I'm sure it is -- it's rare. So you need a family
communication plan. So quite simply, make certain that everyone knows
how to get in touch and knows exactly what the emergency plan is.
Every state, every community, every school, every workplace should
have an emergency plan. Find out what it is, find out who's in charge.
And if your school or your employer doesn't have a plan, then
volunteer, volunteer to be a part of a group to create one.
The third piece of this very important, very simple approach toward
being prepared is simply, be informed. An emergency is not the time to
plan, it's the time to react. So be informed. Different types of
attacks require different responses. The actions you would take in a
conventional attack may be counterproductive if you took them in
response to a different kind of attack.
Now, you can get the information you need by logging on to our new web
site, ready.gov, or you can call 1-800-BE-READY. Let me say that
again. The new web site is ready.gov, or call 1-800-BE-READY, and
you'll get printed information once you make that phone call. For the
first time, the right information, the information you need, will be
in one place. Know what to expect, know how to protect yourself and
your family from harm.
Now, there are added benefits to being prepared. We're having a
conversation right now with a lot of your terrific first responders in
this community, your police and firefighters. They tell us that
avoiding panic and confusion in a crisis helps them do their jobs
better. So when you protect yourself, you're protecting your
community, and it's one less concern that the first responders have at
the time of an incident. It makes sense for you. It also makes sense
for you to support your first responders as well.
Now, preparedness can also help us cope with natural disasters.
Families in different parts of this country prepare for different
emergencies. Now, think about it. Tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes,
snowstorms. Families prepare, communities prepare as a matter of
routine for those events. So let's embrace the same attitude and the
same approach and take some simple steps to protect ourselves and our
families against a possible terrorist attack.
Now, rest assured, ladies and gentlemen, we will prevail in this war.
We will prevail because of the commitment and the effort of all of
those professionals who go to work every single day securing the
homeland, whether they're in the military, the CIA, Customs, FBI, the
Transportation Security Administration, the Border Patrol, the Centers
for Disease Control, the Coast Guard, first responders, and the list
goes on and on. These men and women go to work every day. Their
mission is to deal specifically with a piece of homeland security.
Those are the professionals. They're going to help us win the war.
Every day, we apprehend, disarm or destroy terrorists right where they
live. Every day we disrupt their networks and reduce their funding.
Every day states and counties and cities become better prepared. And
when the threat level is raised, so is our level of readiness. You can
count on it. That's what the professionals are trained to do and
that's what they're doing. But whatever the threat level may be on any
given day, every family and every citizen will know that they have
done their job if they take the time to be prepared.
So the professionals take a look at that national threat warning, and
it's a sign to them that they may have to vary or enhance security or
preventive measures. The national threat warning is really for the
security personnel and the law enforcement personnel in this country.
But, regardless of the threat level, once an individual or family has
been prepared, you can be assured you've done everything the country
wants you to do regardless of the threat level.
The Ready Campaign will help you so you can then go about the
important business, the most important business of being a family. Now
the people behind this campaign, the Ad Council, the Sloan Foundation,
the United States Postal Service, the Salvation Army, the Yellow
Pages, the National Association of Broadcasters, they're all people
you know. They know how to motivate and they know how to mobilize
Americans. People you trust, such as firefighters and emergency
personnel will be the messengers. The campaign will be joined by
members of Congress, governors, mayors, county commissioners, the
business communities, groups large and small. These groups are truly
committed to this effort. In fact, many of them have joined us here
today and we thank them for their tremendous work and their support of
this initiative. Also assisting us are more than 300 Citizen Corps
councils across this nation. We'll get the word out, and they'll help
us turn these words into action.
The Ready Campaign is designed for those who want their families to be
prepared but have asked us, "What can I do?"
After September 11th, many of you wrote a check, volunteered, or
raised the flag. So now we're asking you to write an emergency plan,
buy supplies, and hang a list of contact numbers on the wall. We
cannot be complacent. Terrorists are strategic actors and they act on
their timetable, not ours. They seek to turn our neighborhoods into
battlefields. That is why individual citizens have such an important
role to play.
Much of our population and much of our nation's critical
infrastructure lies in suburban and rural America. The next attack
could happen to any community at any time. The random, unpredictable
nature of terrorism itself requires hopefully everyone to take our
recommendations to be prepared, regardless of where they live.
So let me be very clear. Taking charge of your own safety does not
mean that you're charging into this fight alone. In addition to our
Ready Campaign, the Department of Homeland Security stands ready to
deter and detect terrorism 24 hours a day. We've made a great deal of
progress in a great many areas. Smart borders to protect our safety
and our economy, tough international shipping container standards,
50,000 highly trained federal screeners at our airports, new plans to
protect our physical and cyber security, the nation's first early
warning network of sensors to detect a biological attack, billions of
dollars to help our public health system cope with an attack. And very
shortly, we will help distribute new funding to our nation's first
responders to help them train and to equip to address any threat,
conventional or otherwise. These funds are sorely needed and certainly
long overdue.
The point of the Ready Campaign, however, is that new awareness is as
important as new funding. In one newspaper last week, a man was quoted
as saying, the chances of getting hit are too small. I would say to
him, not small enough, ladies and gentlemen, not small enough. I hope
he reconsiders his statement and at least goes home and gets prepared.
We also must avoid a sense of fatalism, the feeling that the risk is
just too great, too catastrophic and we can't do anything about it. I
respectfully disagree; we can do plenty about it. Governments at all
levels are working on it, companies are working on it, citizens are
working on it. We're doing plenty about this. We know the worst that
terrorists can do and we know how to prepare to survive it, prevent it
and reduce our own vulnerabilities. And we're doing it every day.
America across the board is doing it every single day.
We must follow the lead of those dedicated men and women on the front
lines of homeland security, who feel unease. They feel the same sense
of uncertainty. But they channel that into action. Whether it's the
TSA screener inspecting luggage at the airport, a border patrol
officer checking trucks for explosives, a firefighter running into a
burning home to save a missing loved one, these people dedicate their
lives to our nation and to our safety. As citizens, we too have a
commitment to make to ourselves, our families and to them. We make it
by being prepared.
This is not just a response to terrorism. We truly believe it's a
deterrent. In his last taped message, bin Laden said -- I think his
last videotaped message, he said something to the effect that he
relies mainly on the psychological war, on fear to defeat Americans.
Well, we're here to say to all terrorists that a nation of citizens
who are alert and prepared, a nation of citizens who refuse to panic,
well, that's a terrorist's greatest fear.
The President has asked for our prayers and our patience and our
cooperation and America has responded. Now he asks for one more thing,
individuals and families to take these simple steps to be prepared. I
urge all Americans to join the Ready Campaign and become part of this
history-making effort.
As I said before, ladies and gentlemen, terrorists force us to make a
choice. We can be afraid or we can be ready. Americans aren't afraid,
and we will be ready. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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