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Praise for letter carriers’ participation in Cities’ Readiness Initiative

A Postal Regulatory Commission hearing today focused partly on the Cities’ Readiness Initiative, a program that uses the Postal Service’s universal network and the voluntary participation of letter carriers to protect Americans in the event of a biological incident, such as a terrorist attack.

Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Postal Service Postal and the PRC praised National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando and rank-and-file letter carriers for their role in the program.

During the commission’s monthly meeting, a USPS representative said that the unions representing both city and rural letter carriers—the NALC and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, respectively—are “highly engaged” in providing volunteers for the initiative, and that NALC leadership, from “President Rolando to the branches and the shop stewards,” have been “very instrumental” in making this program work.

The program, which thus far includes Louisville, Minneapolis, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and part of San Diego County, involves letter carriers being trained to deliver medicines to residents in the aftermath of a biological event.

The Postal Service network was described as being ideally suited for this important effort to protect Americans—more so than any other institution. The Cities’ Readiness Initiative was cited as an example of the value of the universal network—and of type of roles letter carriers play beyond delivering mail, often to little public attention. The type of inter-agency cooperation within the federal government that makes such a program possible was lauded, and cited as something that should be built on.

The CRI is designed to help reduce residents’ exposure to a biological threat by encouraging them to stay in their homes, with letter carriers bringing vital medicines to them. The role of HHS in the initiative is to manage the safety of the letter carrier volunteers by making sure they have access to special medical kits that allow them to inoculate themselves first before venturing out to deliver medication to their patrons.

The Cities’ Readiness Initiative “proves that the Postal Service is about more than delivery of hard copy mail,” PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway said. “One of the [postal] network’s strengths is that it’s better suited than other delivery methods, with letter carriers familiar with every street.

“Even during the recent heat wave,” she noted, “letter carriers got the mail through,” something she said demonstrates the importance of the USPS’ unique infrastructure. “I hope we can build on this network in other not-so-dramatic situations, such as fires, floods and food-poisoning outbreaks.”

One Response to Praise for letter carriers’ participation in Cities’ Readiness Initiative

  1. Peri Mayes

    August 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I’m a strong believer in the value of the USPS. Like other irreplaceable services we take for granted, there is so much more to “real life” vs electronic services like e-mail and digital books. It amazes me that people feel sure they will always have e-mail, MapQuest, GPS navigation, calculators and other technological replacements for real knowledge, skills or services, such naive certainty that they will dispose of the Postal Service, the paper newspaper, the public brick-and-mortar library, and they will not bother to learn to read a tangible map or learn to add and subtract,.

    Do they think the power might never go out? Do they think future wars won’t involve CYBER weapons of mass e-destruction meant to cripple the nation’s services? I’m not that naive. I love technology, but will make sure I can still parallel park my own card and add and subtract on my own, thank you!

    It still surprises me that I can send a piece of paper or package across the nation for a small fee, and borrow a book or movie for free. Having my batteries go dead, my iPhone stolen, or my GPS subscription run out won’t keep me form doing those things. And since I still get the paper, too, I can read the news online, yes, but also read stories I choose, even when Yahoo or MSN don’t consider them to be “Trending Now”.

    Lately I’ve heard more about these other things postal workers do, services most of us have never heard of, and which they are the ones most skilled to provide. I wonder how many people know of MItt’s plan to disband the USPS to save money from unions he feels have “tyrannosaurus appetites”.

    As a Registered Nurse and student of public health living in the heat-stricken Midwest, I am wondering whether somehow the postal workers might be able to alert authorities when they see someone who might be in danger form extreme weather, so that 3rd-party volunteers might respond to a potential health emergency. I’m going to ask the St. Louis MP area office about this possibility.

    In the meantime, thank you to all of you who go above and beyond, who watch out for the frail people on your route, for those who report runaway pets, for those who wait a few extra seconds for an answer when you knock with a Certified letter….and lots more. Some of us have noticed, and are rooting for you.

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