Posts from — November 2011

Unrest Abroad Emphasizes Need for Personal Safety and Travel Security

We’ve previously written on the subjects of personal safety and travel security but the recent  unrest in Egypt this past week resulting in twenty-nine deaths and 1,785 injuries, emphasizes the need for individual awareness, preparedness and security when traveling here in the United States and especially abroad. First and foremost, for those that have to work in crime prone densely populated urban areas, high risk locales or countries experiencing political unrest you “should” realize the risks going in and be prepared.

But for those who make the trip for ill advised adventure tourism purposes or who get “caught up in the moment”, well that’s another story!  In the past several days, we became aware of some American students arrested by authorities in Egypt allegedly for participating in anti-government rioting and were subsequently released this past weekend. Spending time in a foreign jail or prison is dangerous to say the least.

In the coming weeks we’ll be announcing a dynamic new series of workshops and training programs as companions to our EXODUS™ personal crisis response product offerings. Our ICE PACK® product developers and trainers are working in close collaboration with former USAF SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) Instructor Reggie Bennett, president of Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School on our High Risk Travel Safety training program. Mountain Shepherd was rated the top survival school in the country in 2008 by National Geographic Adventure Magazine and we can attest to Reggie and Dina running a first class operation! More importantly the Mountain Shepherd instructional staff has extensive training experience teaching urban and wilderness survival for multi-national corporation executives, government agency and elite military personnel. EXODUS™ escape and evacuation products were developed for individuals traveling or working in high risk environments and provides them with essential life saving survival and communications tools.

Below are some tips and hints that will help you, your colleagues or family members stay safe in high risk environments. Start with a plan, make your itinerary known to responsible persons, and register with the US Department of State’s, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if you are going to travel abroad. Help in any form when you are in dire straits, is always warmly welcomed!

Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is key to your personal safety and security period! This is as applicable when traveling at home, to and from work, to cities around the United States or when traveling internationally.

  • Hotels: First things you need to make note of when entering any hotel lobby and then your specific hotel room for the first time, are emergency exits.  How do you get out of your hotel in case of an emergency? If the first route is compromised or blocked for whatever reason, what is your fall-back exit? Stay on lower floors whenever possible. Being on the lower floors of a hotel makes emergency evacuation far easier than being on the 11th floor or higher. Also be aware of room door security especially with adjoining rooms. Do not share your personal and trip information with strangers.
  • Local Events: Be aware of events happening, or about to happen, in the locale in which you are working or traveling. Are you feeling an uneasiness among the locals, is there generally a “bad vibe”? Is there civil unrest brewing as could be seen in the early days of the latest Egyptian situation? What are the typical crimes committed in the area? Are there pending extreme weather conditions you should take into consideration? Do you have your contingency plans in place to include your emergency “ex-fil”?
  • Crowds: Pay attention to the people around you – particularly when you find yourself in a crowd. Have your wallet or purse secure and not easily accessible. Prime targets for pick-pockets are immersed in crowds. We don’t feel the hand slipping into our pocket or tugging on our purse because we are being bumped and jostled by dozens of people around us. Safeguard your passport and know the location and directions to the nearest police station, American (or friendly western) Embassy or Consulate.
  • Surveillance Detection: Basic skill sets for intelligence operatives, these techniques can help you prevent petty crime, physical attack, kidnapping or worse. Pay attention to parked vehicles, especially vans and motorbikes in traffic. Is that brown van and driver you saw parked out in front of your hotel the same one you now see parked in front of the restaurant in which you are eating? Do you feel that you are being watched? Are you being surveilled, and do you know what to do if you are?

Keep in mind that you won’t have the luxury of having your ICE PACK® Disaster Sustainment System with you when you are away from home or traveling! So anything that you’ll need will have to be on your person. Meaning in your pockets, in your waist pack (fanny pack), shoulder bag or back pack. This is the reality of life during a life threatening emergency.

  • Water.  Absolutely essential no matter where you are. What’s the plan if you are traveling and find yourself in a situation where you no longer have access to clean drinking water? Consider carrying a small water filter, chlorine dioxide tablets and a collapsible 1 liter water bottle. With clean water free of Cholera, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other beasties you can survive for weeks. However, drinking dirty or contaminated water can make you very, very sick. This lightweight water solution works even if you are stranded over-night on the highway in the middle of a winter snow storm, or trapped on the second floor of a flooded home with a rapidly dehydrating infant needing formula. Equipped with these tools, no matter the austere circumstances in which you might suddenly find yourself, you’ll be able to make your own potable water.
  • Shelter: A forced evacuation from your hotel at 2am due to a fire, earthquake, flash flood or terrorist attack puts you on the mean streets subject to many dangers. If you can make your way to a safe emergency shelter do so immediately. If conditions are really bad you’ll have to find some type of shelter quickly and to make matters worse protect yourself against two and four legged predators and hypothermia. Here’s where a couple of those really inexpensive Mylar blankets could really be a great idea!
  • Fire. Now you’re on the street at two in the morning, without shelter and shivering from the cold – a fire can not only be a comfort, it can be a lifesaver. Consider carrying a simple fire starter kit. Be careful with this one. You cannot pack these devices in your carry-on luggage if you are flying commercially.
  • Medical. Incorporate some type of well thought out first aid kit into your travel preparedness supplies. In addition to planning for injuries, many travelers succumb to more common toothaches, diarrhea, severe sun burn and worse. So pay attention to including over the counter medications and pain relievers.
  • Light. A good high intensity LED flashlight with lithium batteries is indispensible for signaling for help, finding your way in the dark and blinding potential adversaries.

With concealed firearms carry laws expanding to more and more states in America, you should consider including a reliable firearm and extra ammunition in your ”bail-out bag”. It goes without saying that staying legal is critical as well as making sure you can safely handle and accurately shoot the firearm in defense of your life under high stress situations if necessary.

Carrying a weapon while traveling internationally simply isn’t an option for most people. Even traveling with pepper spray can be challenging.  It is not allowed in carry-on baggage, but 4 oz of pepper spray is allowed in checked baggage as long as it has a working safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Be aware that pepper spray is not legal in some foreign countries and restricted by certain states in the U.S. Make sure you are read-in on local and international laws on any type of weapon.

Perhaps the best thing you can carry with you (nearly everywhere) to ensure your safety when traveling anywhere is your mobile cellular or smartphone, but remember they don’t work everywhere…but they can! You’ll need to know that much of the world uses GSM cellular technology and not CDMA which is common here in the USA. We won’t assume that everyone knows that cellular networks are quickly overwhelmed during a disaster or extreme weather emergencies. When voice communications won’t work, many times SMS texting will. Now what do you do when the network is destroyed and not operational? Yes, you knew we were going there next!

Add a satellite communications device to your emergency communications plan. When you are in trouble, there is great empowerment in being able to communicate with the outside world or emergency responders! These devices provide simple pre-loaded or free text messaging, GPS location with Google Earth tie-ins, and communication independent from ground based telephone lines or cellular towers. Messages can be sent literally around the world via SMS Text and email to let your family or office know you are ok, or that you need help right away and exactly where you are! That could be pretty comforting when your family is watching events unfold in here at home during an extreme weather emergency, Cairo, Egypt or another hot spot of unrest and cannot reach you by cell phone…

Put all of these components together plus a few other important items we haven’t mentioned and you have a well-equipped personal crisis response emergency go-bag to keep you safe during your daily travails in domestic urban jungles or global international travels.

Be aware. Be prepared. Be secure. Stay alive!

Fact non Verba

November 30, 2011   1 Comment

Emergency First Responders: The Critical Minority

In 2010, it was reported that 62.8 million adults volunteered within some organization.  FEMA estimates that equates to a contribution of 14.7 billion hours with an estimated savings of 180 billion dollars as a direct result of the effort. Prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) has, from its inception, relied heavily upon a percentage of that 62.8 million people to provide life-saving emergency medical assistance across the country.  Today, rural America depends almost exclusively on volunteers for emergency fire and medical services. Suburban America is often a mixture of volunteer and career providers. The role of volunteers in emergency response is critical to the continued operation of most of these services nationwide.


In 1972, the television show Emergency premiered. Regardless of entertainment value, this program had an unforeseen influence in the world of EMS. Arguably, it had a greater impact on the rapid development of prehospital emergency medical services than any other event. Viewers of the TV show wanted the same level of emergency response and capability in their own communities as they saw on television. During this same period of time many soldiers who were trained emergency medical responders were returning from Vietnam and were seeking ways to continue the use of their medical skills. The rapidly growing world of EMS provided such an opportunity.

In the early 90’s, government regulations were imposed to control the value of training and enhance professionalism of volunteer EMS personnel.  While this step greatly improved the quality of care provided by these volunteers, it also dramatically increased the amount of time required of them.

Today to become an EMT-Basic typically requires 120 hours of training with continuing education requirements after certification.  Advanced life support (known as ALS) providers have to invest an additional 140-300 hours of training depending on level obtained. The highest level in EMS, that of paramedic, requires an investment of nearly 1000 hours of training before receiving certification.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 1% of our country’s population are first responders. During a critical disaster, that leaves 300+ million of us waiting on a very small number of people to assist with whatever emergency situation in which we find ourselves. We would advocate more Americans investigate how they can become involved with our nation’s volunteer emergency services.  If you don’t feel you can invest 120 hours to become an EMT, consider 40 hours to become a certified first responder or even 16 hours to qualify to drive emergency vehicles. If you aren’t able to volunteer in such capacity, consider obtaining your CPR/AED and First Aid certification from the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.  If even just a small percentage of us would take the time to improve our emergency response training, we could make a big impact on that 1 to 99 ratio of first responders!

Facta non Verba

November 16, 2011   1 Comment

To All American Veterans, We Thank You!

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11th as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace.  It is this very cause of peace and protection of our freedom for which so many of our fellow Americans have dedicated their lives and to which so many have sacrificed their lives.  Veterans Day, however, is not the day we only remember those who have died protecting this great Nation.  It is also very much a day we remember those dedicated men and women who are serving you and I in this capacity at this very moment… those who will continue to serve the rest of their lives from a wheelchair missing both legs, and for others bravely struggling to regain their lives through use of prosthetic limbs, and others still who no longer can see or no longer hear.  It is for all these brave soldiers, young and old, active duty or retired, alive and well or struggling against seemingly impossible physical impairments that today we say thank you.  May God bless you for your service, dedication and bravery.  May the people of the greatest nation on Earth never, ever forget the service of men and women of the greatest military on Earth.

Let us all seek to make every day “Veterans Day”. Whenever we see an American Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Guardsman, may we all take just a few seconds to thank them for the sacrifices they make every single day to protect the United States of America.

On a personal note, we wish to express our gratitude to a great veteran from our own family who served this country during some of our most perilous times. We will truly miss you, Cousin Cliff.

Oct 25 2011

New Mexico, Rio Rancho

Photo of Clifford Morrow in uniform

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Clifford William Morrow, 96, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, died Thursday, October 13, 2011 in Albuquerque, NM. He was born March 11, 1915 to William Noah and Caroline Mae (Emmons) Morrow in Milan Ohio.

 Lieutenant Colonel “Cliff” Morrow graduated from Milan High School in 1933 and attended Georgetown University. Colonel Morrow entered the armed forces with the 145th Infantry of the Ohio National Guard’s 37th Division. He commanded L Company, 145th Infantry in the assault of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands and was awarded the Silver Star Medal for Gallantry in Action.

 During the defense of the American forces beach head on Bougainville, Colonel Morrow commanded G Company, 145th Infantry, in defense of Hill 700 and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor. Later, he left the South Pacific Theater of Operations and was assigned to the 7th Army Headquarters as an air-ground liaison officer with the 324th Fighter Bomber Wing of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

 During the Korean Police Action, Colonel Morrow commanded the 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry, during the action on “Pork Chop Hill” and was awarded a second Bronze Medal for Valor. Colonel Morrow also held other military decorations including the Combat Infantry Badge with Star for service as an infantryman in two wars and the Distinguished Marksman Badge for excellence in marksmanship competitions.

 For a time, Cliff served as a conservation officer with the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. He was instrumental in creating the preserve known as Magee Marsh Wildlife Area near Lake Erie. He also served as a training officer for the Ohio National Guard. In 1963, Colonel Morrow began working for the National Rifle Association (NRA) as the coordinator for their national matches. He later became the director of Hunting and Conservation Activities for the NRA and organized the Hunting and Conservation Division, which was later named the Hunter Services Division. Colonel Morrow retired in 1977 and made his home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He was the published author of three books.

 Private services will be held with interment at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date is to be determined.

November 11, 2011   No Comments