Established in 2002, the Association of CUSEC Public Information Officers (PIO’s) work to improve public awareness and education efforts regarding the seismic hazard in the central U.S. Through the media, exhibits, seminars and meetings, this group uses earthquake preparedness information to empower central U.S. citizens with the tools and the confidence they will need to protect their families immediately after an earthquake. The group is comprised of the Public Information Officers from each Member State emergency management agency and public information representatives from other organizations. This group has created a working relationship which allows them to easily exchange ideas and share public information plans. The association meets as needed to complete objectives for existing projects and set goals for future ones. The group also works closely with the CUSEC Member State Earthquake Program Managers to pIan earthquake preparedness activities.
For example, Earthquake Awareness Week—now Earthquake Awareness Month in the state of Missouri—is observed annually in February. Each CUSEC State PIO helps to coordinate and host earthquake related activities such as town hall meetings, school and civic presentations and other special events throughout their state. As part of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) Catastrophic Planning Initiative, the group is working on a regional emergency public information plan that will be customized to information response following a damaging earthquake in the central U.S. This regional emergency information plan will become an annex to each state’s Standard Operating Procedures for Public Information. This document (Standard Operating Procedures for Public Information) is a component in each state’s Multi-Hazard Response Plan.
Since media markets crossover in most areas of the central U.S., this group also prepared a pre-scripted news release/earthquake announcement in 2007 to make sure that accurate and unified messaging will be disseminated to the public. As it turns out, this preparation proved to be beneficial during the 5.2 earthquake—which was felt in 18 states and Canada—that occurred near Mt. Carmel, Illinois on April 18, 2008. Information from news releases distributed to the public from each of the Member STates was exactly the same, leaving no room for confusion.
In conclusion, the Association of CUSEC Public Information Officers continue to work diligently to educate the public on the importance of earthquake preparedness, strengthen each individual state’s catastrophic emergency public information plans and promote the FEMA Catastrophic Earthquake Planning Initiative to various publics, including the media, lawmakers at all levels of government and participating agencies.
To contact your State Public Information Officer, please visit our Member State page, and follow the links to your State.