Thursday, April 22, 2010

Post Drill Debriefing - Bugging Out

Post Drill Debriefing: Emergency Bug Out

OK, so you have decided to take the time to create a likely disaster scenario for you and/or your family and the best solution for your safety was determined to be a "bug out" or evacuation of your dwelling - or a location you are staying temporarily like a college dorm or apartment.

This is an extremely difficult decision to make, leaving what has (for most) come to represent security in your life - your home. Not to mention all the time and effort creating your suitable domicile and the ubiquitous "stuff".

Needless if you were not overly prepared you will have discovered that maybe this survival/preparedness idea is considerably more complex and difficult than you first thought.

We certainly appreciate that. Remember - this is an ongoing process - not a one size/one time fits all event.

Some things to discuss....

How long did it take after deciding to leave did it take? Under 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? More? How long? Did you actually leave?

Was the planned conveyance - car-boat-motorcycle-bicycle-bus-atv-plane - able to accommodate all your critical gear? Was there an alternative means available? What changes would need to be made before you could use the alternative and how fast could you switch your means of egress?

Were you actually able to carry your evac bag (assuming you had one or more) any distance or was the kitchen sink too heavy (humor)? Were you prepared to carry on by foot if your vehicle failed you?

Did you have a destination goal that was safer than the place you were leaving? If so, in what way and for how long?

Were you accompanied by others or just yourself? What might be some difficulties with injured family members or neighbors (or yourself). Did you consider your known physical limitations?

How far away did you travel? Did your vehicle have sufficient fuel to make the trip or did you have to refuel enroute?

Was the time you held the drill realistic? If another time was more difficult, would you have fared as well as you did this time or worse?

What were the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) presented by the execution of your plan ? Did you encounter challenges you never thought existed or did you exploit opportunities you had considered in your planning stage? What would you do differently and in what (realistic) situations would your pre-planning not work?

Would have sheltering in place (SIP) been a better alternative? If so, why and for how long?

What are some other preparations would you make knowing what you know now? Would your home and the contents be "safe" for short periods of time knowing alarms and police protection would be non existent? Have you considered that?

More food? More water? Better ride? Safer means of carrying documents? Money? Firearms?

Did you find that in fact under certain scenarios you actually had no realistic expectation of being able to remove yourself safely in time to preserve your safety and that of your family? In this case would shelter in place (SIP) be the only option? Should you prepare instead for that response?

This post can go on for hours with a variety of questions and ideas on how you might have, should have, could have...but it was an exercise and exercises are meant to create ideas and evaluate plans and processes. So, if you developed more questions than answers - do not despair because that is what this was meant to do.

Some of you will undoubtedly throw up your hands and say "if it was meant to be then it was meant to be"......but WTSHTF your flight or fight response will kick in and that previous philosophical lament will quickly become a moot point - so how about "I will prevail" as your mindset instead? Good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Preparedness Drills - DIY

AP Wirephoto
In order for you to become proficient in handling emergencies and getting a feel for how your plan works you should drill just like safety professionals do. What better way for you to experience how it feels to be without power, lights, running water and whatever realistic situations you might encounter?
Another form of this drill would be for you to ask the family to prepare (on short notice - much like an unannounced fire drill at work/school) to evacuate your residence because of an overturned tanker or gas leak or flooding. Have you seen the media footage of people with advance notice of impending calamity needlessly carrying out their plasma tv's? "Unprepared" would be a very kind word to use.
Many people seemingly don't have to drill because they have this experience first hand - floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires etc.. Many of these folks are already well versed and often ready to respond. Most people still are not.
So, for those who aren't and want to actually see themselves and families in action - now is as good a time as any. Some family members may be reluctant to be involved but considering the consequences of not being prepared are great - it will be a time to test interpersonal skills as well.
Potential scenarios:
Shelter in place for one full day - yes- say 24 hours. No phones, no electricity, no running water - no TV. What back up plans are in place to deal with this and what equipment is set aside for this - use it like you would during the real deal.
Mock Evacuation to another location or relatives house packing your gear out in your vehicle or whatever conveyance you decided to use. City residents may have to try alternate means to get to their destination...make the drill as realistic as possible. Test your emergency shelter or vehicle equipment realistically. If you live in an industrial area you may need to recognize hazards and plan for emergencies that might occur. Don't wait for others to dream up these scenarios for you. They will be a long time coming!
Reroute Drill. Devise an alternate route home from school, work or a place you frequent due to an emergency like a plane crash, fire or traffic accident (fairly common) but close off your normal route and see what difficulties or challenges you encounter. You might even consider offering this as a game for the kids....within reason depending on age. Practice a first aid scenario and you can put a participant 's arm in a sling to replicate an injured limb.
Remember these situations are quite possible and it is better to know now what it might be like and how to compensate because it may save your life.
Post Drill:
When you finish your prescribed exercise, debrief everyone and make necessary changes to your plans. The experience and insight you gain from these exercises is the key as your actual plan may not adequately deal with the emergency exactly as you planned.
Your decision making skills and increased knowledge from interacting with your team will now allow you to make those important choices more decisively. Don't be dissuaded from conducting a drill because of what someone naysayer says - they will always be the first one's over to get YOUR help in an emergency.
Do this with trusted family or some friends and try it being low key at first. You don't want the whole neighborhood knowing you are the prepared one and having them show up at your door - or shelter, because they are feeling too entitled or downright lazy to take care of themselves.
We live in an entitlement (aka nanny state) society now and many expect that costly helicopter rescue to save their day - reality is something else altogether!
Seeing that government has not adequately involved citizens in any realistic drills or school training - you need to do it yourself. More to follow.