Posts from — November 2010

When You Are Out There by Yourself, Don’t Be Alone

Make yourself necessary to somebody. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Unlike the carefree days of our youth when we could be gone all day and no one would worry, such is seldom the case today. When you are out of communication and truly “alone” you sacrifice a certain level of safety and security. You relinquish the piece of mind that someone knows where you are, and if you don’t check-in, will come and find you. However, with this being said sometimes you end up in a situation (through intent or happenstance) when you, or you and the kids are out there by yourselves. At every given opportunity we emphasize to our families and staff members about not being totally out of communication, and effectively limiting your options for assistance if you encounter an emergency situation.

When you’re alone and faced with a dangerous emergency or encounter a disaster situation, the potential for a bad outcome can only be reduced or magnified by what you’ve done or not done beforehand to help yourself. Being by yourself, does not necessarily mean being alone.

Photo: STRATFOR

Communicating. Take the time to communicate to a responsible person where you are going, your itinerary, and when you plan to return. Failing this, leave notes in obvious places in your home or office with this information. Do not put this information on your Facebook page as it can immediately signal criminals that you are away from home. Since no plan ever survives first contact, use at least two different forms of communications to insure your message is understood and can be acted upon.

Situation Awareness. We live in a world today that has changed drastically from the communities that we grew up in during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Situational awareness is key to your personal safety and security whether you are at home, work, driving, recreating or on travel. The vulnerability of you and or your family can be compounded by a host of factors (e.g. disasters, compromising medical emergencies, vehicle breakdowns, extreme weather conditions, utility outages, etc.). Another instance might occur where you could find yourself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the wrong state of mind. Do yourself a favor by reading “A Primer on Situational Awareness” republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Driving. Everyday lone drivers face the day to day reality associated with common automobile breakdowns or just simply running out of gas. There are many other threats that also need to be considered when you are alone behind the wheel. Vehicle crashes, criminal carjacking, extreme weather driving conditions, and simply becoming lost. The upcoming winter weather driving season brings with it slippery roads, reduced visibility driving (blowing snow, sun glare, and icy/dirty windshields) and the potential of becoming stranded on the road. If you slide off the road, down an embankment and you are not visible from the highway, you really have a life threatening emergency. In this situation emergency signaling devices and a vehicle emergency sustainment system become invaluable. Cellular telephones with vehicle chargers, at all times of the year, are a must!

Working – On The Job. Whether you are working in the office late at night, catching up on paperwork over the holidays, traveling to see a client in or out of the country, or out in the field checking equipment in remote locations by yourself; remember you are by yourself. You cannot afford for safetys sake to be alone. When a real emergency arises, you only have yourself to count on and you could easily come up short. You can easily be isolated by a myriad of emergencies, calamities or disasters. Understand that you are vulnerable and that you need to have made plans and be equipped to return home safely. If a cellular telephone is your primary “life line” be sure that you have chargers, and a back-up battery power module. Here at ICE PACK Emergency Preparedness Systems, we are also working with corporations that have “lone workers” in the field that are equipping field personnel with a satellite messaging capability using SPOT technology.

Travel. Whether you are traveling anywhere by plane, train, bus or automobile, in or out of the country, you need to advise others of your plans, travel safely, and have the ability get home in the unlikely event of an emergency. Personnel in our company at all levels have been affected by an emergency while on travel. Snow storms causing roadway closure left staff stranded for more than 22 hours in freezing temperatures and more than a foot of snow on the way home (emergencies have many definitions that also include having to go to the bathroom with none anywhere in sight). A full fuel tank, warm clothes, a way to melt snow for water and available snacks were issues on Rt 81 that day. On the day Iraq invaded Kuwait in the first Persian Gulf War we had an executive in the Gulf Region stranded for weeks trying to get home. A Bug Out Bag, passport, phone card, and cash (believe it or not almost everyone in the world knows Ben Franklin ) were very, very important. And who would have ever thought of a 21st century modern society being affected of all things by a volcano in Iceland?

Recreation. Backpacking, sailing, trekking, big game hunting, rock climbing, kayaking, and off road trail driving are all highly enjoyable solitary pursuits. All of these recreational pursuits present some form of personal hazard, thus requiring solid emergency preparedness planning and high quality survival equipment. Recreational pursuits can also make you more vulnerable to extreme weather conditions so you need to keep an eye on the sky and “ear” on the weather forecast. Extreme weather conditions such as storms, lightening, high winds, ice and snow can turn an enjoyable outdoor experience into a fight for your life. Even when driving around the countryside in your Recreational Vehicle you need a RV personal disaster plan.

Obviously you can begin to see the importance of communications as a common thread throughout this blog post. Murphy’s Law (if it can go wrong it will) tends to have greater impact when you are by yourself. You can be by yourself, but you don’t want to be alone during a disaster. You can however, rest assured if you’ve planned, equipped and communicated properly you stand an infinitely better chance of enduring the emergency or disaster and staying alive.

FACTA NON VERBA…

November 29, 2010   9 Comments

Common Sense Approaches to Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response

“If common sense were common, everybody would have some”

As the ICE PACK™ blog has developed over the past number of months, many questions have been raised about how people actually apply what they’ve learned, equipped themselves for, and practiced when responding to a disaster. Below we’ve “boiled down” some common sense approaches to emergency preparedness and disaster response that we thought you might find helpful.

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
Establish a good solid flexible disaster plan. Heed the KISS principle when planning. If your plan involves helicopters, fast boats, and jet packs then you need to stop watching James Bond reruns and get back to the real world, and the basics. Take a look at a prior blog post on planning that features the PACE method

Training
Nothing can replace good realistic emergency response training (please recall last week’s medical first aid blog post and our strong recommendation to attend Red Cross First Aid Training). Training will not keep the disaster from occurring, but it does give you the knowledge base to understand what could happen, and allow you to be better prepared.

Decision Making
Be prepared to make well thought out, informed and timely decisions. You cannot defend a bad position and/or a poor decision. Understand that no decision is the worst decision! Being indecisive can waste valuable time and endanger lives.

Communications Plan
A multi level communications plan will go a long way toward alleviating concerns and worry by family members and co-workers. It’s as simple as compiling a call list, and standard operating procedures in the event of an emergency. Pay particular attention to developing plans to communicate your status without local telephone access. All Communication Plans should include a NOAA All Hazards AM/FM radio, with battery backup.

Be Ready
When disaster strikes “work your plan”! When situations turn ugly there is no way to know how, and to what extent you will be affected, unless you are not there to be affected by the disaster. This, I’m afraid in most instances is a Fait Accompli.

Taking Positive Action
People affected by a disaster (before-during-after) may become overwhelmed and just give up, if they stop thinking, assessing, and observing the situation. Rapidly changing situations demand that you use the brain God gave you. Engage your Mark 1 brain, listen, look around, and see what’s happening. Work “the plan”, and of course we all know no plan ever survives first contact. Some make it up as they go (this is hard, if you do not have experience, in most cases it only makes a bad situation worse). Lastly, some simply stop or freeze up and let the situation evolve; this may not be a good thing…

Risk
Do not take risks you would not normally take unless circumstances are dire.

Equipment
Know the disaster preparedness equipment available to you. It is not enough to just buy it; you must train with it and prepare to use it. Doing this enables you to understand how the gear works. Learning how to use equipment on the fly is not suggested and may well be detrimental to your safety. This experience may well give you some insight into other items you may need that are not commonly available or perhaps easily found around the house, office or workplace.

Personal Protection
Do not attempt to defend yourself with a weapon that you are not trained on, legally posses, and/or not proficient with its use. More importantly if you do, you must be prepared to accept the consequences of using a weapon against another human being in defense of your life. Training in the use of weapons and local law are essential to the confident and prudent employment of weapons in defense against criminal attacks.

Control
Control your area before, during and after the event. Do not let the event control you. Control means you planned and prepared and this gives you the ability to have options and stay well inside your “comfort zone”.

Evacuation
Evacuate your location when authorities issue the directive. Leave sooner if you are prepared to do so, to get ahead of the situation. Do not be where the event is taking place if at all possible. You can replace material things but not loved ones.

Severity
The more severe the emergency, calamity or disaster; the longer it will take to be rescued, or have civil services and utilities restored.

Use common sense when dealing with all aspects of emergency preparedness and disaster response.

FACTA NON VERBA…

November 22, 2010   5 Comments

Every Second Counts

On Wednesday, November 17, 2010 Ashbury International Group partnered with the Central Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross at their annual fund-raising benefit luncheon entitled “Every Second Counts”. In our continuing efforts to reach out to the emergency preparedness community, Pamela Bergeret, Executive Vice-President, Ashbury International Group, and Troy Perry, Emergency Preparedness Systems division supported this event. Ms. Bergeret arranged for a number of special guests to join the benefit and hosted them during the luncheon. Mr. Perry provided support in marketing design, development, and presentation. After the event, Keila Rader, CEO, Central Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross said, “This fundraising event was very successful and I am pleased with the response from the community and sponsoring companies and organizations”.

November 19, 2010   2 Comments