Sebelius Describes Federal Government As 'Our Federal Family'

Susan Jones | September 5, 2013 | 10:34am EDT
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President Barack Obama hugs HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after signing the Obamacare law on March 23, 2010. (White House photo/Pete Souza)

( - September is National Preparedness Month, and in a news release urging everyone to be mindful of potential terror attacks, natural disasters, and pandemics, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the federal government is ready to help:

"While our federal family is becoming better prepared to support the nation, we know that being truly resilient requires the whole community coming together," she said.

"Simply put: bystanders can’t stand by. We’ve seen countless times that bystanders are truly the first responders. They save lives. Each of us must be ready to help others when every minute counts."

Sebelius said being ready means being aware of potential risks, knowing where to turn for help, and being willing to help one's neighbors:

"While taking a first aid class or a CPR class is always helpful, we may not need formal training to save someone’s life or provide them with basic care they desperately need at that moment. Sometimes, we just need to be willing to help carry someone who is hurt to safety, provide comfort to someone who is frightened, or help someone find the medical care they need."

Several other Obama administration officials have used the phrase "federal family" in recent weeks.

At his swearing-in ceremony on Aug. 29, B. Todd Jones, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, talked about the ATF agents who pitched in to help local law enforcement in Aurora, Newtown, Boston, and West Texas: "It's as close as you're going to get to blue-collar law enforcement in the federal family," he said.

Seven days earlier, on Aug. 22, David Heyman, an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, told a Washington think tank how the town of Joplin, Missouri had recovered from a devastating tornado "in partnership with the federal family."

And on July 10, Richard Serino, the deputy administrator of FEMA, told a Senate panel that the Boston Marathon bombing "was determined to be a high risk event. This determination resulted in enhanced attention to the event across the federal family..."

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