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

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…

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

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 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”.

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.

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.



1 Mike McKenna { 11.22.10 at 12:45 pm }

Well said and excellently presented!

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