Many people, when they think about preparedness, think of Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic or Mad Max movies and a land without laws after a catastrophic event. Both of these ideas are ridiculous in their own way, but once someone gets an idea in their heads its difficult to change their thinking, which brings us to our first section.

Separating Fact from Fiction

The first thing we need to address is separating what is fact and what is fiction. There is a prevailing thought that some people are impervious to the effects of disasters, that is a falsehood. There is also the idea that the federal government is somehow inept and can’t help in any way shape or form, now that might be the thought of many people, and I will put a wager that those people have never seen the inner working of the logistical nightmare of a State Emergency Operations Center or a FEMA Joint Field Office. Once you have seen behind the curtain of Oz you will have a newfound respect for what Emergency Operations Professionals do and how many disciplines are involved. Image an ant hill, it looks like chaos but it really isn’t if you know what is happening.

Designing a fully capable preparedness scheme takes time, patience, practice, honesty and resources. It also should take place well before any disaster rears its ugly head, but to the untrained or uninformed it can seem overwhelming. That is why we are launching this series slowly and giving you the basic set of tools you will need to plan, prepare and increase your resiliency for when things head south in a hurry.

Knowledge is Power

It’s an old saying that still rings true, in order to solve a problem you need to gain a knowledge base and plan for a solution, but where do you turn if you are at Step 1 in the path to preparedness? We have listed a few sites that will start filling your Preparedness Toolbox.

  1. Ready.Gov : This is the first stop in the journey and part of the Homeland Security umbrella. If you look at the right hand side you will see links to many simple check lists on training and toolkits for disasters
  2. American Red Cross:  Probably the most active and overlooked non-governmental resource on our list. The Red Cross performs expertly in nearly every disaster or crisis in the United States and teaches more than CPR.
  3. Community Emergency Response Teams: Although under the responsibility of Department of Homeland Security, this site will give you tools and instruction to be a local CERT Team Member, what better way to support your community than help it recover during disasters.
  4. Center for Disease Control: The CDC is a key component in any organized response effort and brings their own specialized set of tools to any event.
  5. Emergency Management Institute: EMI as it is known in the Emergency Management community is the brain trust of FEMA and teaches the Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses. Many of these courses are free and can be taken online, If you want to help out in any capacity most organizations require a basic level of ICS or NIMS Training.
  6. Your local or state Emergency Management Department: These most often fall under the governance of the National Guard Bureau in your state or territory. No-one knows your areas hazards and vulnerabilities like your local Emergency Management Professionals. These agencies will also work with your local cities and counties and will regularly review and update the Local Hazard Mitigation Plans, more about that later.

 

Disaster Tool Box: Where to go for information
Image:FEMA.GOV
Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC)

 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

All disasters are local disasters first, its one of the simple truths of Emergency Management. I happen to work in the field of Emergency Management and for the last year and have been “Drinking from the Firehose” as we call it and going through many of the advanced level courses many of the institutions above have to offer. If you have questions, call around and ask them, there are no stupid questions in the world of preparedness no matter what anyone tells you. If you feel more comfortable in asking questions privately feel free to send us a message.

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