One of the problems with disasters is they have no soul. They don’t discriminate and they don’t care who they hurt. As evidenced by the recent monster blizzard on the East Coast, the only advantages you have in some instances, is your level of preparedness or your level-headed judgement.
Watching the videos of motorists stranded on freeways, I am flabbergasted at why there are miles and miles of motorists stuck out in the weather when they have had five days’ warning this storm was on its way.
That’s how people die! That’s the reason we have weather forecasts. With computer models, satellite imaging and all kinds of technology at our disposal, weather forecasting isn’t simply a guessing game anymore. There is no reason to be caught unawares with a predictable storm system.
Then after the initial event, there are two kinds of people, those who have been injured (or worse) and those who have not. The casualties are out of the game, so to speak, and the rest of us (the uninjured) fall into two categories. There are those who are equipped to handle a disaster and there are those who, for one reason or another, never thought this could happen to them and have failed to prepare.
Of the survivors, there are assets and liabilities. Those who have sought out training or set about storing up supplies, have just become assets. The survivors who have neither training nor supplies, are now liabilities. They, in many cases, are a drain on the resources, much like the injured.
The military knows when the shooting starts, soldiers don’t necessarily panic, rather they perform to the level of their training. When the bullets start flying, their programming takes over and how they have been trained becomes their pattern of behavior. The more intense the training, the more “routine” the activity seems. Instead of running wildly in a circle, a trained combat soldier will get down, seek cover and concealment and hopefully live to see another day. All because of training.
For those trained in First Aid, coming across a traffic accident is simply another exercise except now the blood is real and so is the pain. These are the ones who become assets in time of disaster. We all tend to rise to the level of our training in a crisis. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself: What am I trained for? When’s the last time I was pushed into a crisis? How would I respond in a REAL disaster? Would I be an asset or a liability?
Why not seek out a First Aid class? Even if you don’t think you could ever be used in a disaster, maybe you could be the family hero when your charge needs something slightly more than a Band-Aid. At least your training in triage gives you an understanding of what needs to go to the emergency room and what can be treated at home.
Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is held periodically and is a weekend well-spent that will equip you to be a huge asset to your community in the event of a disaster. In fact many jurisdictions won’t even let would-be volunteers into the disaster area without CERT validation. The attitude of the on-scene commanders is that someone without proper credentials is simply one more liability, but a CERT member can help lessen the load of the full-time emergency responders.
So what will it be? Asset or liability? The choice is yours. As always, send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us.”