Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Asset or Liability
Originally published June 24, 2013

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 tornado in Oklahoma, the only advantage you have in some instances, is your level of preparedness.

After a disaster, 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 what they have memorized in training 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.

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. Humans tend to rise to the level of their training in a crisis. Maybe its 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 this summer? 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 comments or questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson