12/14/2005

Civil Defense Redux

I worked for a guy who was heavily involved in NASA's Apollo space program who liked to say, "It took 450,000 private contractors and 50,000 government contract managers to put an American on the moon." That ratio also applies to homeland security (civil defense).
Insurance
Since so much civil defense and disaster preparedness involves insurance: Review your homeowners insurance policy regularly to make sure you have enough coverage, and the right kind of coverage, for YOUR home, family, and things.
Know what is not covered by your insurance policy (such as floods).
UNDERSTAND what is, and is not, covered.
Make sure you have the best insurance company working for you.
(Great civil defense lessons can be found at TACDA)

In a former life, I had the honor of working with emergency management professionals. I taught a class at the Emergency Management Institute and monitored Emergency Operations Centers in Texas, Utah, North Dakota, and Arizona.

I was also able to write articles for Hazard Monthly. Two articles included: Two Fine Volcano Books Produced by Smithsonian Project, about Krakatoa 1883 - The Volcanic Eruption and its Effects by Tom Simkin, and Volcanoes of the World - A Regional Directory, Gazetteer, and Chronology of Volcanism During the Last 10,000 Years, by Tim Sinkin, See Siebert, et al. (Krakatau darkened the word's sky's for 4 days.)
I worked on civil defense in the early 1980's when it was square and old fashioned and...basically...forgotten by most Americans. (See, for example,
http://www.blogger.com/Bernstein,%20Alan%20B.,%20The%20Emergency%20Public%20Relations%20Manual,%20reviewed%20by%20James%20Morentz%20and%20Bruce%20Curley,%20Vol.%203,%20No.%202%20(August%201985):%2085-87.
Bernstein, Alan B.,
The Emergency Public Relations Manual, reviewed by James Morentz and Bruce Curley, Vol. 3, No. 2 (August 1985): 85-87, http://www.ijmed.org/1985.php) After all, the Russians were no longer a real threat, the Chinese were our new trading friends...what else could happen? National priorities shifted and civil defense became a distant memory.

Now it is back in the news everyday...and if no longer forgotten...often ignored. But just as it was forgotten and dismissed as passe in the 1980's an 1990's and events in 2001 forced us to dust it off and rediscover it, civil defense, now called homeland defense or homeland security, is back.
As before, there is much misinformation, more good information, many professionals, and many other fast-buck artists out there on the web promoting their products, plans and systems. I've visited many of their websites and recommend one over all the others: The American Civil Defense Association (TACDA).
They understand the threat matrix and they have located material, systems, companies, policies and planning systems that work and, more importantly, adapt to various situations. I especially like their Aqua Rain ceramic water filtration system (civilization depends on clean water) and their partnership with homeland plans.

TACDA sells a number of useful mitigation and preparedness products. I especially recommend the personal evacuation kit for anyone who works in an office.
You may never face an ABC attack, you may not face a fire, but you may face a power outage and need it to get out of your building. For around $33, it's money well spent.

My own house burned down some years ago due to a defective circuit board on an electric mower. As you can see in the photo that was taken y a neighbor, it was a bad fire. Because we had adequate USAA insurance, we were able to rebuild a better house quickly. The new house is beautiful, but I would give it all back not to have the memory of my wife being medivacted out to the Johns Hopkins Burn Unit. Disasters happen, and taking steps to be prepared is common sense.
Fires, floods, earthquakes, windstorms, power outages, and now terrorist attacks happen. It's a story as old as the Bible. Do you and your family and neighbors a favor and make sure you are prepared. Even if it never happens, it's like insurance. You never know you need it until you need it and then it is too late to get it. Mitigate and smile.

TACDA understand the fundamentals of emergency management which depend on details, like mettags http://www.mettag.com/
I encourage you to join TACDA. For $36 a year, you and your family will get a big return. Here is the contact information: TACDAtm, 11576 S. State Street, Draper, UT 84020, Suite 502, www.tacda.org, info@tacda.org, 800.425.5397,800.403.1369 (fax)
Besides Sears for tools, I recommend the Tractor Supply Company for, as they say, "The stuff you need out there." They carry about everything you need to be well prepared, or you can find it in their catalog.
Like volcanoes, other natural disasters have create monumental catastrophes. We have been dealing with these events for thousands of years. There are valuable lessons, principles, procedures, and policies learned from dealing with these natural disasters that we can apply to civil defense (now called homeland defense).
One article I wrote in Hazard Monthly (June 1984, p. 12) was titled, How FEMA Works With/Battles/Is Guided by Congress. It outlined the Byzantine process of how emergency management funding works its way through the House and Senate. The lessons then apply today. Here are a few quotes:
At times, a program my be authorized and no funding is set aside to make it go. In that case, the program is as good as dead.
Accounts you read in the media oftentimes do not distinguish between authorizations and appropriations. Yet, they're quite different and can cause much confusion if not clarified from the very beginning.
If you have any questions about any of these programs, contact a stafffer on the particular Committee or Subcommitte that deals with it.
Funny...even though since 9/11 billions of dollars have been authorized, appropriated, and spent in this area, after being neglected so in the 1980's and 1990's, the valuable civil defense lessons, principles, procedures, and policies learned from our past experience (from early exploration in this continent to the present day) must be relearned each generation. And if you read the Old and New Testament, the lessons are all there. It is human nature to want to ignore the painful lessons and to celebrate the fun lessons, but life is a mix and we need to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate life's emergencies, mindful of the past and anticipating the future.
One lesson I learned is how well prepared many of my fellow American's (in this case the Mormon's) are for such natural and man-made disasters. And because they are so well prepared for other disasters, they are prepared for any terrorist attacks.
For example, I navigated a mountain outside Salt Lake City in the early 1980's and viewed the entire city under water. Because of the Mormon experience and history, they take survival seriously, to their credit. In this case, because they had sandbags, shovels, plastic sheeting, food, water, etc. preplaced, they worked together to channel the Great Salt Lake that was overflowing at the time through the city and down to Lake Provo. Result? Very few injuries and they returned to normal quickly. A case study of how to do it right.
For those who are so negative as to believe there is nothing we can do to prepare for and beat this current terrorist threat, I suggest you consider that some in the World Trade Center who experienced the 19993 bombing relocated to a safer location. What did they figure out that it took a second lesson for others to learn?
Useful Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness Website
American Red Cross/CDA website that explains sheltering in place http://www.redcross.org/preparedness/cdc_english/CDC.asp
Additional Emergency Preparedness Tips
Mohammedan terrorism will hit the U.S. again. That seems to be the consensus view. Israeli Juval Aviv has written two books: Staying Safe: The Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Business and The Complete Terrorism Survival Guide: How to Travel, Work and Live in Safety. Some of his advice:
Since mass transportation is the next attack, take a bottle of water, a small towel and a flashlight. What happened in London is exactly a point to look at. Those people who were close to the bombs died, then others were injured or died from inhaling the toxic fumes or getting trampled. The reason you take a bottle of water and a towel is that if you wet the towel and put it over your face; you can protect yourself against the fumes and get yourself out of there.
  • Don't be bashful. If your gut feeling tells you when you walk onto a bus there is something unusual or suspicious, get out and walk away. You may do it 10 times for no reason, but there will be one time that saves your life. Let your sixth sense direct you.
  • Be wary of someone paying an usual amount of attention to a prominent landmark; someone nervous or jumpy or trying to access off-limit areas; someone trying to hide something.
  • Keep an eye out for unattended items when using mass transit or in airports.
  • Try to break your routine. If you travel during rush hour every day, try to get up a little earlier and drive to work or take the train when it's still not full. Terrorists are not going to waste a bomb on a half-empty train.
  • Don't rely solely on the government to provide you with crisis or threat information -- do your own research, too. (Our Department of Homeland Security has done a miserable job of providing us any information, e.g. what the difference between the color codes is.)
  • Have a plan on where/when to meet family members in case of attack; map assorted evacuation routes from home/work.
  • Keep extra copies of your passport/birth certificate/social security card, other records. Keep copies in storage or with relatives, friends. Carry copy of your passport when traveling overseas.
  • Never order room service in foreign hotels. Workers may poison the food or spit in food meant for Americans.
    Never check luggage at curbside check-in at airports; carry luggage on board with you. Carry as few bags as possible.
  • Spend as little time at the airport as possible. Avoid heavily glassed areas.
  • When traveling abroad, don't advertise your corporate affiliation or title on luggage or other items. Stay in an American chain hotel; security is usually tighter.
  • When in a foreign country, don't advertise you're American by speaking loudly, holding up maps, exchanging currency at airports, showing American flags, etc�
  • Avoid crowded areas. Avoid public transportation and major tunnels and bridges during heavy commuting times.
  • Never stay in a hotel with an underground parking garage and never park in such a garage -- terrorists love car bombs.
  • Store a decent amount of cash someplace in case ATMs malfunction. Carry only essential money cards and identification.
Homeland Security Parable was published by Lynx Eye, Pam McCully and Kathryn Morrison Editors, c/o Scribblefewst Literary Group, 581 Woodland Drive, Los Osos, CA 93402 Volume XII, Nos. 1 & 2, Summer 2005, pages 5-7.

Homeland Security Parable

Here's the secret to homeland security.
My truck blew a tire
On a suicide curve
In a forest so remote
My cell phone would not work
And I was stuck in a forest.
The wind chill factor was minus 5.
I had to pick up
my eight-year old Eamon
In a half hour from day care
Or I would be charged
a year's mortgage payment.
When I tried to get the spare tire off
The underside of the truck carriage,
It was frozen solid and would not budge.
My clothes became filthy in forest dirt
As I tried in vain for 45 minutes to remove the tire.
I went into the truck to get warm and think.
I had water and beef jerky in the truck cabin,
So I still had time. I had a full tank of gas for heat.
But the phone... I tried to call my wife. No signal.
I tried to call my brother. No signal.
Then...eureka! What about 911?
They must have a stronger skip tower.
It just makes sense. I called 911.
Where are you?
In Bennet Regional Park.
You want the Park Police
No...wait... but he transferred me.

Park Police...I'm stuck in Bennet Regional Park...

You want the regional Park Police.
We're the federal Park Police.
No...wait...I can't get a signal
From my cell phone where I am.

Can you call my wife and tell her
To pick up Eamon and to call USAA
To get me a tow truck out here
Sure. He took the information.
An hour later, she and the tow truck arrived.
But it was not over.
The tow truck took me to Pep Boys
Where no one spoke English and, worse,
No one wanted to fix the flat.
On to Wal-Mart where they stated
Emphatically they were closing in 10 minutes.
I told the truck driver to take me to God's Country,
Mount Airy, where I moved 3 weeks after 911
When I saw biological attack circle maps
Did not reach when they hit Washington, D.C.
On the way the driver said,
Wait. In Damascus there's a garage I know
Where the guy is in my AA group.
You can't say anything because
It's all supposed to be anonymous.
You said you do volunteer civil defense, right?
Yeah. I answered.
Well then he has to help you. He's a firefighter.
Law enforcement has to help each other
When they're in a fix like you are.
But I'm not law enforcement! I protested.
I'm a volunteer for homeland defense.
Doesn't matter. He said. He has to help you.
A few minutes later, the firefighter
Who owned the garage opened the door,
My truck was in, and fixed, in minutes.
I returned the next day and bought
Four new tires from the same man.

That's the secret to homeland defense.
You depend on other people,
And they depend on you.
Some call it the golden rulel

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