“The earthquake, however, must be to every one a most impressive event: the earth, considered from our earliest childhood as the type of solidity, has oscillated like a thin crust beneath our feet; and in seeing the laboured works of man in a moment overthrown, we feel the insignificance of his boasted power.”
~ Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle
“There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.”
~ Stephen King, Different Seasons
“Keep your eyes open, Fireheart. Keep your ears pricked. Keep looking behind you. Because one day I’ll find you, and then you’ll be crowfood.”
~ Erin Hunter, Forest of Secrets
I’ve been teaching Disaster/Emergency Planning/Preparedness for years under the Canadian Red Cross. I chose to do it that way because the amount of communities/households calling for me to do a presentation is appallingly low (almost non-existent): if any, they prefer to call a well-known and respected organization (and I don’t blame them) and they tend to do so after a big scare such as yesterday evening’s 4.8 earthquake in Victoria (felt along all Metro-Vancouver and beyond)
I took all the courses from the BC Justice Institute on Emergency Management plus all the Canadian Red Cross courses on Disaster Management and a few online courses. I’ve more than 6 years of experience as a DM and ESS volunteer. I got a certificate as First Aid trainer and also took Remote and Wilderness First Aid training and have trained more than a dozen groups of community members (mostly immigrants and refugees), but what all that has taught me is how ill-prepared we all are: starting by the government and the many non-profit agencies and going all the way down to individual households, workplaces and schools.
Let me explain: the current disaster plans are all scattered and disconnected; they would probably work under the assumption every other part of the system continues to work (they surely won’t work under complex circumstances such as social or economic hardship or severe “natural” disasters.
People are unaware, but most of these plans and preparations are highly relying on volunteers: the staff is minimum and not necessarily well prepared: there is no such a thing as systems-thinking or holistic thinking in any of these courses and/or practices and all is sustained on gigantic amounts of money (i.e. donations and taxpayers money) and bureaucracy (i.e. assuming a “chain-of-command” model with lots of hierarchy and paperwork)
I have tried (unsuccessfully) for years to advocate for a more grass-roots approach: after all, there are dozens of studies showing that the “first responders” in any situation are always the ones who happen to be there: you, your family members, your co-workers, your classmates, your neighbours, those who travel with you in the bus and so on)…in a big disaster, you and them are the ones who need to know what to do and need to have the important supplies.
People tend to trust that authorities and rescuers will be there to “save them” but that’s not always the case: because there are few of them, they have to use “triage” and choose to help those who may be more vulnerable or just happen to be located in places where is accessible. This means you may be trapped for hours (or days) in situations where you will need to survive without running water, electricity/power and regular communication tools. You may also be injured, scared and overwhelmed by the situation, and so may be your loved ones, neighbours, etc.
I have written long and thorough about what to do and how to prepare so today’s post will be short:
In any case, the best preparation is how you live your life. There are things for which we can never, ever be prepared…looking at the big picture helps: since millennia, we have experienced all kinds of disasters, some created by us (such as wars and social/economic collapses), some exacerbated or even created by our lack of systemic/long-term thinking such as the recent floods in Britain and some as a result of Natural occurrences (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, etc)
We now have tools (Permaculture and systems thinking) to address how we approach many of these things and create solutions (such as re-foresting riversides and coastal areas to prevent/diminish flooding or build earthquake resistant housing that is also sustainable, work as communities and not in an isolated fashion, etc)
Most people dread the terms “Emergency” or “Disaster” preparedness as they have the magical thought that avoiding these words coming into their heads somewhat make them “safe” from these events…
But working towards a sound plan and avoiding risks and hazards can be fun: it is one of the best ways to build community and household trust (and resilience!)
Enjoy your life and have a super-thankful New Year’s Eve!
May 2016 bring awareness, wisdom and empowerment to live a simpler yet fuller life in this amazing planet we all share…
“Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.” ~ Scottish proverb
There is an excellent summary for families here: http://emergencyready.ca/15-steps-to-emergency-preparedness/
And I highly recommend the “Map your Neighbourhood” model: http://www.preporegon.org/MYN_overview
If you want to know more about our Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake and Tsunami you can watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0amLbhxCiqc and read this sobering (long but worth) article: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one