Training & Education

Emergency Managers Take on the Harlem Shake

The dance craze that took the Internet by storm is helping spread important messages.

Two words: Harlem Shake. If that doesn’t conjure up images of people dancing wildly while flailing their arms, then you haven’t been on YouTube lately. The dance has been sweeping the Internet by storm — it's been viewed 1 billion times, according to researcher Visible Measures — and now it’s being embraced by the emergency management and first responder community.

In Oklahoma, the Edmond Public Safety Center Communications Department celebrated National Telecommunicator Week by making a video of its employees doing the Harlem Shake. Complete with a bomb disposal robot, Edmond’s first responders arrive on the scene to investigate a suspicious package in a parking lot. According to the video’s description, it was made for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments’ annual competition, and this year’s theme was, of course, the Harlem Shake.

To promote fire safety, the Albany, N.Y., Fire Department’s version of the dance includes signs promoting “stop,” “drop” and “roll,” as well as the appearance of a giant smoke detector to remind viewers to test the device monthly. According to WALB News, about two dozen firefighters participated in the video with the goal of spreading the safety messages to children. "They are just messages, messages that are powerful. If you can send a powerful message to a child, it's inspirational and it's very motivational," firefighter Antoine Hunt told the news station.

In Tampa, Fla., a local radio station partnered with the police department to make a Harlem Shake video that highlights neighborhood watch programs. "It was a no-brainer because our neighborhood watch members are the eyes and ears of our community," police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor told the Tampa Bay Times. "We want to show the program is in existence and that citizens are part of these groups."

And in Sioux City, Iowa, employees of the Siouxland District Health Department “do the Harlem Shake the public health way.”

Has your department or organization used the Harlem Shake to spread safety or preparedness messages? Provide a link to the video in the comments section and we’ll add it to our list.

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