Emergency Sing Off: Preparedness Song Makes the Message Stick

Virginia emergency managers embrace YouTube and turn a popular song into a catchy message about preparedness.

by / December 10, 2013

From gearing up for the zombie apocalypse to a flash mob encouraging readiness, promoting public preparedness has taken numerous creative forms. And now emergency managers in Virginia are getting vocal — by turning popular songs into catchy messages about what to include in an emergency kit and other useful information.

Tanya Ferraro, medical reserve corps coordinator for two health districts in southwest Virginia, and Keith Dowler, regional health-care coordination center manager for the Near Southwest Preparedness Alliance, came up with the idea to turn popular songs into messages about preparedness over lunch before Thanksgiving. Ferraro said an hour later they had written the lyrics and recorded the video, which was soon posted on YouTube. “I am a big fan of using social media to engage people and teach people about disasters and make it interesting,” she said.

Loyals — A Royal Preparedness Duet (watch the video below) takes the catchy lyrics from Lorde’s song Royals and gives them an emergency management spin. For example:
Cause in my kit's like flashlight, duct tape, whistle I can blow on
Band aids, first aid, extra medication,
We don't care, we're gonna shelter for days of three

The video has more than 950 views as of Dec. 10, and Ferraro said the response has been surprising. They promoted it using social media, through their emergency management circles and the local news did a story about the video — but word of mouth remains the main method of outreach.

“It’s been interesting showing up at meetings with people I wouldn’t normally see and have them comment about the video,” Ferraro said, “or to have people I don’t know submit suggestions for things that they think would be great preparedness videos.”

Loyals — A Royal Preparedness Duet was the duo’s first video, but they have a couple more songs ready to go that will be recorded and posted periodically over the next few months.

For agencies wanting to create inventive preparedness campaigns or develop new messages, Ferraro said the first thing is to have fun with it, find creative people in the organization and get everyone involved.

“I think it’s really important to make emergency management fun and engaging and interactive and human,” she said. “That’s one thing about our field: People don’t look for the information, but if you can make it exciting and humanize it, then they want to be a part of it because it adds something to their day.”

Elaine Pittman Former Managing Editor

Elaine Pittman worked for Emergency Management from 2008 to 2017.