Does not matter what part of the planet you live on the possibility disaster may strike your neck of the woods is growing exponentially daily. It could be a flood, tornado, cyclone, wild fire, winter storm, earthquake etc; do you have a contingency plan? What have you done to prepare for the known events that are common in your region? Do you have a survival pack at the ready if you have to run out the door? Where will you go? What about your infant child or elderly grandmother? Are you prepared to save their lives as well as yourself? Sounds kind of scary huh and it should because death is a very real consequence if you don’t take this issue seriously. Disaster will turn into personal tragedy and nothing worse than watching a loved one die
As a former associate director of the Office of Emergency Management & Firefighter I can not stress hard enough how important it is to have a game plan for survival. I’ve written plans, participated in table top exercises and full blown exercises with many departments with mutual aid participation. Ironically I participated in an air crash scenario exercise after a real passenger jet crashed in Colorado Springs, United Flight 585, killing all 25 people onboard. What a group of coordinated professionals they were and it was truly an honor working with them. Working with multiple agencies in these exercises taught me the importance of preparedness, cooperation and training. I have FEMA certifications in my repertoire and though you may not be responsible for the wellbeing of a community you should have some knowledge of preparedness this agency has to offer, for your family’s sake. It’s free.
Though we live in a world filled with advanced technology there is no technology that can streamline or expedite an emergency response from first responders at any level of government. Ask a survivor and they will tell you it can take a week or more before help arrives since logistics is a major concern. Will the bridges and roads be passable? Where will planes land if the airstrip is destroyed? 911 switchboards will load beyond capacity if you were lucky enough to still have a phone or electricity. If fires broke out there are no doubts emergency services will be stretched beyond its limits to contain the blaze. Rescue operations, security and a host of other concerns will also slow response time to your location. Be prepared to treat injuries and bivouac for at least 7 days. Water, Water, Water for without water in 3 days you will die.
In many cases emergency services within a stricken region can also be destroyed extending the time before help arrived even more. A dear friend walked around with a shard of glass impaled in her chest for weeks before she found assistance after Hurricane Andrew. She lived in the direct path of the hurricane causing total devastation as far as the eye could see. Only by shear grit did she survive to tell her tale. The stories she told me were horrific since human carnage was everywhere and after a week the air carried the stench of rotting bodies, and help was still ‘on the way’. Eventually the government dug mass graves and buried scores of people before pestilence spread throughout Dade County. Katrina should be a stark reminder that you can’t always depend on others and it also stresses the point that survival is in your hands when it comes down to it.
I worked on the recovery efforts in Los Angeles California after the 1994 Northridge Quake and found many roads impassable at best, even weeks after the quake. The devastation was astronomical and that was a little shaker at 6.7 m. but it looked like an atomic bomb struck. Imagine being woken up at 4:31 in the morning as your house goes surfing on a seismic wave. For some people they simply woke up to Dante’s Inferno and were burned to a crisp when a gas main ruptured and caught fire. Others were crushed to death as building came down like a stack of pancakes. What I witnessed never made the news as whole sections of the community were sealed off and away from the public eye. It was hard to fathom the totality of this disaster but I can safely say some people never had a chance, survival pack or no survival pack. They were obliterated in a stew of meat, iron and concrete. My heart still goes out to those poor souls who died on that fateful day.
Tornados are another experience I managed to survive in the Pan Handle of Oklahoma and I really don’t know how I managed to get out of that one. It was more like a dream as I dodged trees, debris and other junk as a series of twisters ravaged Northwest Oklahoma and it was late at night. In hindsight I should have stayed on my rez and gone to a 49 after our social. But what a feeling of helplessness as nature flexed her might. I truly felt like a little bug waiting to be crushed as I tried to find safety. Being on the road was not exactly the best place to be. There were multiple tornados across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas with major loss of life on that evening I later learned.
Gads, I drove through several twisters and had no clue where I was going since I could not see other than dirt and trees whizzing around through my headlights. Where was I going to hide? I felt buck naked at Sunday school in a crowd of nuns. I only caught a glimpse of the twisters as lightening flashed and transformers exploded. I was traveling, totally unprepared and unfamiliar with my surroundings and that was a formula for death if I ever saw one. Maybe I should have heeded the emergency broadcast warning before I left my nation. At least I would have known where the shelter was. The Lord protects children and fools and I guess I qualified. Relatively unscathed, I only had a broken windshield, some sand blasting on the ole paint job and a need for another pair of boxers, holay!
There is no question people will die during any catastrophic event just by the shear nature of disasters. But with some preplanning you will increase your survivability quotient 100 fold. Knowing where the shelter is and paying attention to emergency broadcasts will keep you out of as much danger as humanly possible. Having a survival pack with essentials to last at least a week will insure you will not suffer as much if your community is completely devastated. You must pay attention to your surroundings and know where to go in a time of crisis. And you must instruct your family on what to do if you are at work or out of the house. There are many concerns that should be addressed before a disaster strikes. For diabetics and other people who require special medical needs preplanning must include the medications you need to sustain life including its storage.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided comprehensive tips, guides and a host of resources so you can responsibly plan and prepare for disasters. Whether you follow the FEMA *guidelines or you decide to utilize other preparedness resources the bottom line is the fact you are taking measures to protect you and your loved in the event of catastrophe. You may survive disaster but you also need to survive till help arrives to assist you further and that can take a week or more depending on your location and the type of disaster you are confronted with. First responders will have their hands full and logistical concerns will weigh heavily on response time.
I worked in events with mass casualties and had to perform emergency rescues, triage and prepare a dust off for Flight for Life and do body recovery with limited personnel. We wore many hats that day so I know how hard it is to be everywhere at once, let alone the exhaustion factor when the adrenaline wears off. That’s when it can get dangerous to the first responder. In most cases there is only a hand full of first responders locally. Budget and manpower cuts in all branches of emergency services across the country is a recipe for disaster especially now. In a crisis police, ambulance and fire department personnel will undoubtedly be overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of some events. And it will simply take time for federal agencies to asses and prepare a coordinated response. If there are multiple events nationally resources will be stretched even further. Do the math; it is up to you to survive until help arrives. The life of your family depends on it. That back pack sitting in the corner will be the key to your survival. If you don’t prepare it may truly be the end of the world for you and your family.
Your Devil’s Advocate
Space with tags disaster, emergency, NASA, preparedness news on February 11, 2012 by Buffalohair
Buffalohair Gazette International Archives 2009- 2012
NASA – Warns Employees to BE PREPARED
Voyager Finds Magnetic Foam at Solar System’s Edge
Alert NASA WARNS PUBLIC OF ONCE IN A LIFETIME SOLAR STORM
Solar/Volcano / Earthquake Watch Feb 9-13, 2012
SOLAR ACTIVITY UPDATE: Filament Eruptions Associated With Earth Bound CMEs (Feb 11th, 2012).