Commercial uses dramatic images to warn against being unprepared

By Rebecca Sweeney

A commercial for the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security that flashes images of a tornado, a flood and a fiery explosion is receiving some criticism as it nears the end of its broadcast course.

The advertisement, paid for by the federal government, was purchased in a contract executed by former Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s administration and encourages Kentucky residents to take action to be prepared in the case of a natural disaster.

Darrin Doyle, a secondary education freshman, described the images in the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security’s commercial as outlandish.

“The tornado looks like a clip from the movie Twister, the flood would require Noah’s Ark for survival and the blaze of fire looks like an Atomic Bomb has just been dropped,” Doyle said.

He says scaring people might be the best way to get them to listen, but using video clips of less severe disasters would make it seem more likely that something could happen.

“After seeing how far the Office of Homeland Security went to try to scare the citizenry of Kentucky, I find myself wanting to revolt against them for using these unnecessary measures, instead of wanting to prepare, which is what their intention was,” Doyle said.

Antonia Lindauer, a public information officer with the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, said the commercial reflects the direction of the media campaign that was chosen by the previous administration. Since Gov. Steve Beshear was elected, the office is under new leadership and has plans to begin a new media campaign.

“We look forward to moving in a different direction that will more closely reflect the focus of our outreach campaign, which includes family and business preparedness as well as our Citizen Corps program,” Lindauer said.

Lindauer said even though natural disasters are more prevalent than man-made ones, both will be the focus of the new campaign.

Christy Giles, director of the UK Office of Emergency Management, said the commercial is a reminder that disasters can happen in this area, and people need to be prepared and ready to take action accordingly.

“Kentucky has definitely suffered the consequences of devastating disasters over the years,” Giles said. “Communities all around the state have been destroyed by floods and tornadoes.”

At UK, emergency preparedness is an ongoing effort, Giles said.

“Plans are never final as improvements are noted through exercises and actual incidents that result in changes to plans,” Giles said.

In addition to being a certified “Storm Ready Campus” by the National Weather Service, Building Emergency Action Plans are being implemented across campus to provide instructions on what they should do to protect themselves during various types of emergencies, Giles said.

John Stempel, a senior professor in the UK Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, said the commercial is a useful way to make people pay attention to important issues.

“If you’re not ready when terror hits, you’re often dead with no chance to learn,” Stempel said.

Stempel recommends that students read, learn and prepare for disasters. He said the Office of Homeland Security should try to reach even more citizens through local organizations or fliers in mailboxes.

“If we’re known as a place that doesn’t care, we’ll be hit,” Stempel said. “Terrorists look for those who discount them.”

The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security’s commercial can be found on the department’s Web site (

For more information about preparing for, acting on and preventing disasters and emergencies, visit the UK Emergency Management Web site (, the UK Police Department Web site ( or the Environmental Health and Safety Office Web site (