Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

The REAL First Responders
Originally published February 20, 2012

“They” are always there. Pick up your phone in any emergency, dial 9-1-1 and you get a response. They are the first ones on the scene. That’s why they’re called “First Responders.” Whether its the Fire Department, Police, Sheriff’s Deputies, State Police or Ambulance (EMS) personnel, we have learned to rely on their dedication, professionalism and faithful attendance to our emergency needs.

But what if, just what if you dial that number and nobody responds? In the event of a disaster, “they” are going to have their hands full and your emergency is going to take a low priority. If you can get through at all. That’s why your neighbors are your REAL first responders. All across the country neighborhoods are forming N.E.P.P. groups (Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Plan). Using a technique known as “mapping your neighborhood,” neighborhoods are getting organized, inventorying their skills, equipment and their demographics.

This is not another government-sponsored program. This is a grass-roots, community based effort designed to bring people together. For example are there seniors in your neighborhood who will need assistance in the event of a disaster? Which of your neighbors has infants, toddlers or possibly special needs children? Who has plumbing or electrical skills? Who can run a chain saw (everyone in Oregon) or who has access to a backhoe? Mapping your neighborhood documents all of this. Which of your neighbors has natural gas that may need to be shut off in the event of an earthquake? Where are the propane tanks located? Which ones are handicapped? Is anyone insulin-dependent? Their insulin will need to be refrigerated. Anyone on oxygen? Mapping your neighborhood will create an inventory of all these matters and will save lives in the event of a disaster.

The need is for people to get involved. If you’ve ever wanted to do something of significance for your community short of running for public office, here’s your chance. This will require someone in each neighborhood contacting your neighbors to bring them together for this endeavor. If this interests you and you’d like more information you can contact the local emergency services coordinator. They will be happy to provide you with the information you need to get started.

As always if you have any disaster preparedness questions or comments you may email me at 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