Chapter 12: Prepare
All emergencies are local events, at least initially, so look at your preparation from the perspective of yourself as an individual, and that of your family, school, company, and community.
Each requires a detailed preparation and plan. Relevant to all these categories are health, survival, communication, and evacuation issues. Adequate preparation and incorporating those preparations into a daily routine that you can maintain, is an important element of being prepared.
When the former Soviet Union collapsed in a (relatively) peaceful economic and governmental implosion, its people found themselves without the most basic needs. Recent interviews with Brian Long, who worked with the USAID in Armenia at the time the World Trade Towers collapsed on September 11, unearthed frightening stories of survival. The interviews also revealed a worldwide compassion for the loss America experienced.
When the Soviet Union dissolved, people awoke to the reality that their currency was suddenly useless. Trucks did not deliver food. Electricity and water supply ceased for as long as two years in some regions. People resorted to burning their furniture for heat. The societal impact of an economic collapse required the Russian people to draw on a reliant resourcefulness if they were to survive. Engineers and professors soon found themselves without professional standing and employment, but did whatever menial job was necessary to support their families. The ages of family members became irrelevant, since anyone capable of working could bring home food or firewood. Students in schools who could translate became some of their community’s most valuable and highest-paid resources.
Many of our parents or grandparents in this country survived the Great Depression. Their resourcefulness, and the willingness of their families and communities to pull together, helped them make it through the tough times. I challenge you to interview and learn from someone who has been through hardship and learn how they dealt with it.
I do not mean to give an impression that we are in a doomsday situation. To the contrary, our nation is much better prepared to deal with emergencies or disasters than most. Part of the success at Ground Zero was the evacuation preparedness of the building and its occupants because of plans and procedures put in place, rehearsed, and followed after the bombing there in 1993.
Even so, although the 2002 disaster in New York was incomprehensible, it was confined to a relatively small area, yet it still took, four days to get appropriate masks to the NYPD rescuers. And it required an outside group of volunteers to fill the medical gap in identifying and screening those officers for respiratory illness.
As this is being written, we are at war, but most of us have no true concept of hardship unless we live or work in the Pentagon, Lower Manhattan, or have a family member in public service or in the military.
Preparation needs to take place at the local level, because until the government can come in and respond, local resources will have to deal with the problem. Prepare to be on your own for a while if another wave of terrorism or attack occurs.
A recognized mechanism for preparation is to practice technology and procedures frequently, so that rescue efforts for an emergency runs as smoothly as a serious drill. A fire drill or an evacuation drill is an example. I propose that we put into place the mechanisms to use technology—such as our computers, Internet service, and even cable TV channels—to become part of the education and medical infrastructure.
A computer outfitted with educational and clinical diagnostic instruments can be part of that infrastructure. My company’s machine is one solution—using a computer outfitted with educational and clinical diagnostic instruments that, when disaster strikes, becomes a site where care can be rendered under expert advice until advisors arrive—but there are also many other uses of conventional and advanced technology and expertise, and these need to be implemented.