Preparation is everything, and this week a team of emergency responders conducted a drill to ensure the best response if a hurricane threatens. Key West Fire and Rescue, Monroe County Fire and Rescue, the Lower Keys Medical Center, and the U.S. Air Force Air National Guard all participated.
If Monroe County calls for a mandatory evacuation, hospital patients must be flown out to other hospitals. During the drill, volunteers posing at patients were transported from the hospital to the tarmac at the Naval Air Station Key West where they were boarded on a transport plane.
“Teamwork and practice mean that we’re ready should a storm come our way,” said Key West Emergency Manager Capt. Gregory Barroso. “We need to be sure we coordinate ambulance and air service to keep the patients safe under a threat of a hurricane.”
The last mandatory evacuation order in the Keys was in 2017 for Hurricane Irma. But there are no guarantees, said Capt. Barroso. In 2004 there were four calls for a mandatory evacuation, and three the following year.
While emergency managers are practicing, the community is reminded to do the same. Be sure your hurricane plan is in place in case we have more than a drill this hurricane season.
The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden to offer free admission to military personnel and their families this summer
The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is a 2022 Blue Star Museum! It will join museums nationwide in the Blue Star Museums initiative, a program that provides free admission to currently-serving U.S. military personnel and their families this summer. The 2022 program will begin on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 21, 2022, and end on Labor Day, Monday, September 5, 2022.
Blue Star Museums is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families, in collaboration with the Department of Defense and museums across America. Blue Star Families is the nation’s largest grass-roots military family support organization, with a mission to support military families to improve military readiness.
“Museums educate and inspire, cause us to wonder and imagine, dream and remember,” said Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Blue Star Museums include children’s museums, art, science, and history museums, zoos, gardens, lighthouses.
The free admission program is available for those currently serving in the United States Military—Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force, members of the Reserves, National Guard, U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps, and up to five family members. Qualified members must show a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), DD Form 1173-1 ID card or the Next Generation Uniformed Services (Real) ID card for entrance into a participating Blue Star Museum.
The City Commission has proclaimed January 20th as Keys to Be the Change Mentoring Day. The commemoration falls in a month set aside nationally to recognize all mentors who work to guide our youth to success.
Keys to Be the Change was established in 2014 and is aimed at helping at-risk students succeed. The program provides education, awareness and opportunities that empower children, youth and adults to improve health, wellness and skills for success in school and in life. “Mentors play a vital role,” said Executive Director Heidi Golightly,” by providing crucial support and guidance to high-risk youth as they grow and develop into our next generation of productive citizens.”
The proclamation notes that Keys to Be the Change collaborates with volunteers from the community as well as the Key West Police Department and the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIAFT) South, which includes the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines. “These mentors offer our high-risk youth academic support as well as promoting pro-social behavior,” said Golightly.
Golightly brought with her some of the mentors from JIAFT, noting that their guidance is making a huge difference in children’s lives. “We have -- even with Covid -- a 75 percent success rate of these students passing their classes,” said Golightly. “The kids are eager to come to school and meet with their mentors.”
In the Photo: Mentors from JIAFT South join Keys to Be the Change Executive Director Heidi Golightly and the entire City Commission to receive their recognition.
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