National Emergency Preparedness Month: Helping Families and Communities Prepare


Article Contributed by
Stephanie McCraw

National Emergency Preparedness Month began in September 2004 to promote emergency disaster planning in families and communities. This year’s theme, “Prepared Not Scared,” has weekly topics with helpful checklists for anyone who wants to think ahead personally or with their family. Weeks one through four are: “Save for Future Disaster Costs,” “Make a Plan to Prepare,” “Teach Youth to Prepare,” and “Get Involved in Your Community’s Preparedness.”

There are so many ways to plan and knowing what to do or who to contact in an emergency can help us look forward with confidence. In a lecture book on the topic of life lessons, Professor Randy Pausch said, “One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.” September is a celebrated month for all the change that comes with it; but among those things is often the mindset of being prepared. While many rejoice in cool breezes and new swaths of color on the trees, people are also busy readying for the challenges of whatever life might bring their way.

In terms of community preparedness, it’s a good idea to know what professionals are in place to handle disasters. The Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services (CCOES) in Mayville, NY is a government organization and an invaluable community resource with comprehensive emergency management plans, county hazmat response, and mass casualty incidence plans, which are essentially templates as to how to manage larger scale emergencies. Plans are maintained and updated as changes happen on the national and state levels. CCOES aids in the coordination of various local agencies for recovery and mitigation.

Falconer native John Griffith was named Director of Emergency Services in 2017. Before that he served as a firefighter and EMT for over thirty-five years. He says National Emergency Preparedness Month is for “public awareness of what you can do in your personal life for disasters” including the basics like financial planning, having first-aid kits, making emergency plans for the home, and understanding evacuation zones. Griffith says he is “honored” to have his position and that he loves the job. He explained that any 911 request for service is considered an emergency in our county.

CCOES oversees forty-two fire departments and handles fire training for volunteer fire departments, as well as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training. ALS Intercept offers paramedic care, the highest level of pre-hospital care, and it’s available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The CCOES has groups of highly skilled individuals to help in rescue situations; a Level 2 HASMAT team, a County Water Team with divers, a Fire Police Team that helps with traffic, and a Technical Team for cliff, building, and other rope rescues. On the staff are four battalion coordinators in an advisory role, two fire coordinators, an EMS coordinator, Dive Team Captain, and County Fire Police Captain.

Learn More

For checklists and to follow along visit

John Griffith is available to speak on related topics. Visit for more information and visit the CCOES Facebook page to stay up to date.