Showing posts with label Disaster Preparedness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disaster Preparedness. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Coronavirus: Panic or Meh.

Image result for don't panic hazmat gif

Disclosure: I am NOT a doctor nor a scientist. These are just MY crappy opinions. They don't represent anyone but me. I'm not claiming to be an expert - without being insanely sarcastic. Follow what I say here with a grain of salt. If you're upset by what you read here, do us both a favor - grab a seat, have a Coke, and calm down.

You ever hear of this thing called the coronavirus? Yeah, if you've been alive, can read, and have decent Internet access, it is highly likely you know what the coronavirus is. Have no fear, I won't waste your time going over too many of the basics here. That said, if you've been online and perused any of your social  media sites long enough, you'd recognize everyone has an opinion on the virus and whether the threat of this virus is exaggerated or worth a panic that would make the Spanish Inquisition seem tame. As your resident "threat mitigation expert/guru/ninja/influencer", I too have opinions on that. Let me borrow a few minutes of your time and I'll explain what they are.

Things we know about the coronavirus (this is entirely too condensed):

  1. The virus has been seen in the "wild" for about six weeks. It's estimated to have infected 80,000 people worldwide. It's likely killed approximately 3,000 with just nine in the United States.
  2. There is no vaccine. Loads of companies claim they have one but none have been tested or vetted through the FDA. That process could take a year before it hits the street.
  3. The virus tends to kill those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and those with "underlying health conditions". Five of the nine deaths in the U.S. were from a single nursing home in Kirkland, WA.
    • Underlying health conditions which could compromise your immune system include but are not limited to the following:
      • Those in chemo
      • Those with HIV/AIDS
      • Those with autoimmune disorders
      • Those who smoke
      • The elderly
      • Those who already have the flu or pneumonia
      • Those who have respiratory problems
  4. The virus can infect anyone. Scientists are still looking for antibodies; thus why no vaccine yet. So far, only a few of the infected have been reported as children. The former director of the Center for Disease Control believes children could have it but be asymptomatic and infect adults unknowingly. Recently, a 3 year old in NY state was quarantined.
  5. Governments are struggling with containment and seemingly everyday a new crop of infected and dead seems to arise. Quarantines have been implemented for infected persons. Some have left quarantine and been later identified as still being contagious.
  6. It is likely part of the information we suffer from with this virus comes from the Chinese government allegedly not being as transparent as they could. For example, some believe the death toll could be higher.
  7. The virus could share the flu's seasonal patterns. That said, the virus is six weeks old and we won't know for sure until the summer.
  8. Emergency workers have been quarantined and major events, venues, and conferences in various cities have been canceled or closed.
  9. The President has appointed Vice President Mike Pence to head the U.S. government's response to this.
  10. Not everyone dies from this and symptoms seem to dissipate after two weeks. Most of the infected described the symptoms as "mild". That said, these were infected persons who didn't have compromised immune systems.
  1. Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough. Buy a mask not to protect yourself but others from catching the virus should you be infected or have symptoms.
  2. Don't panic but be concerned. This could be an insignificant health crisis. Then again, the death toll is rising and the number of infected people seems undiminished. Pay attention to the news for updates on cancellations and quarantine orders.
  3. Don't come into work, if you're sick. Stay home and call your doctor.
  4. Discuss with your family the importance of hygiene with respect to disease mitigation. Talk about the likelihood of a quarantine should anyone in the family be infected. Show your children where to find official and vetted information. Reinforce the necessity of critical thinking when it come to disaster preparedness.
  5. Don't hide your symptoms but be aware some people react poorly in times like this. Be responsible with what you disclose and with who.
  6. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
  7. Home remedies won't work. Just stop. Please.
  8. Antibiotics will laugh all the way down the toilet at you. Don't take them. They work against bacterial infections NOT viruses.
  9. Gossip happens in times like these. Stop getting angry about exaggerations and innuendo. Rather educate people on factual resources. Turn discussions away from gossip and focus more on steps you need to be taking towards mitigating this threat.
  10. Calm down.
Final thoughts:
  1. There's a difference between being "concerned" and outright panic. One requires you to invest yourself in the discussion so you can determine what if any risk factors you face and what mitigation strategies you can and should employ. The other requires you to ignore logical thought and critical thinking and boil your skin after every handshake. I'm merely suggesting the former. If you're sick of hearing about the disease and confuse the volume of discussion with the content of the discussion, you're missing a whole lot.
  2. This virus will likely not kill or effect you. We live in the most prosperous country on Earth. The majority of our 300 million citizens and resident aliens should be fine. That said, don't let those factors distort the realities between them and your proximity to this threat. It may not kill or infect you but it could likely do the same for someone you know. You may have more skin in this fight than you may care to acknowledge.
  3. There's ZERO harm in being responsibly prepared. Calm down.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

25 Items Every Security Professional Should Carry On-Site In Case S--- Hits The Fan

A picture of my "get-home bag"

I had the privilege of working as a private security officer as one of my first jobs after getting out of the military. I did this job in one of the most disaster-prone areas of the country - Florida. During my training and my time spent with coworkers and supervisors, I had many conversations about our duty to remain on-site during a natural disaster. These conversations had me asking many introspective questions about my own personal preparedness to fulfill this obligation. I knew I was highly trained and very skilled in providing the best protection possible for our clients. I was more concerned with the stark contrasts between my preparedness from when I did similar work in the military versus this new arena as a civilian. In the military, my post was equipped with gas mask, Chemical Biological Nuclear Radiation Explosive suits, food rations, radio, and a huge support network. As a civilian, I had none of these to face similar threats. It was this realization that sparked my determination to "prep".

"Prepping" is the application of various disaster preparedness concepts for personal and group survival in the event of a disaster. It's that simple. No Rambo survivalist fantasies stereotypes. Just people who want to better prepare for disasters in order to survive. With that in mind, "prepping" seems to be one of the most overlooked portions of the security officer's toolkit. Most agencies assign you a standard list of mandatory you need just to make it through a standard duty day. My hope is to provide you with a guide to get you through those not-so-standard duty days.

  1. Flashlights. This goes without saying almost but I HIGHLY recommend carrying at least two more flashlights. In the picture above you will note two flashflights. I keep one for map reading and other minimum distance tasks. The other I use for longer distance tasks such as room clearing, site exploration, target acquisition, and signaling.
  2. Compass, binoculars, and maps. Loads of security guys will carry the flashlight and maybe a knife and first aid kit. Few see the utility of having additional roadmaps and a compass. These tools are valuable for a variety of reasons in disaster scenarios that range from giving directions and position location to rescuers, navigation from one point on-site to another, and mapping terrain features and other locations as temporary shelter locations should they be needed.
  3. Knives. I can't overstate why having a knife is a good thing in a disaster. There's practically an encyclopedia's worth of knowledge of the best utilities for a knife. I won't go over any of them here. However, I would like to specify the types of knives you should consider. I carry a defensive knife, three multi-tool knives, and a hunter's knife. These knives each serve a multitude of purposes and have served me in more ways than I can articulate in this space. Suffice it to say, if you don't get how these could benefit you in a disaster, then I suggest you get yourself in a situation where you need to cut, pry, hold, clamp, or stab something without them.
  4. Notepad. Keep a notepad handy should you need to keep track of people in your area, emergency responders you've made contact with, how many people are on-site, etc. Anything and everything you feel you need to keep track of you should use this notepad for.
  5. Tape. In my photo, you will notice electrical tape. I keep this tape in my kit mostly because this is my go-to tape for work and I keep it in the bag I take with me most in the field. It's also handy to have in my car for various vehicle breakdown scenarios. Before you ask, I also keep duct tape handy. It's another bag but I do have it and would use it over the electrical tape. The most important thing for security officers to note are the practical uses tape could have in a survival situation. In most cases, we use tape to keep things stuck together. There are a few more uses for tape other than this. I have used tape to close bandages, mark areas I cleared, hastily label items, etc. Just like knives, tape is another subject where the uses in a disaster are too large to discuss here. To say the least, if you don't already, keep some tape in your gear.
  6. Cottonballs. I keep cottonballs in my kit for two reasons. The first is to have it to use as a dressing for wounds. The other is to use it for kindling in case a fire is needed. You may scoff at the idea of needing a fire in a standard duty. However, remember this list is for those non-standard duty days.
  7. Whistle. It's a secondary communication device.
  8. Lighter and "strike-anywhere" matches.
  9. Signalling mirror. This is another communication device.
  10. Address book. I keep all of the important numbers and information I may need in case cell service is out or my phone is dead. Most people are caught off-guard by how fast cell services goes out in disaster scenarios. Having a copy of your most important numbers is very important. You should consider having the numbers for:
    (a) Your local police and fire departments
    (b) Your home numbers and those of family members you may need to inform.
    (c) Your employer's numbers
    (d) The National Weather Service Dial-A-Forecast for your local area
    (e) 511 and 311.
    This will provide local government information and traffic information.
    (f) Local friends who may have some situational awareness about what's happening.
  11. Debris mask. This is no substitute for a full respirator or gas mask but it could prove vital if the need arises.
  12. Gloves. I normally carry both latex and work gloves. The latext I use to mitigate exposure to bloodborne pathogens, while I use the work gloves to mitigate exposure to various temperature fluctuations, rain, sharp or abrasive materials, and to gain better traction when gripping certain objects.
  13. Paracord. Seriously, I don't have enough space in the world to discuss paracord. Get educated on how useful just a few feet can be, if you're not already, and I guarantee you'll be carrying it daily as a part of your kit.
  14. Basic tools. Screwdriver with multiple bits and a hex lock tool. Also, if your bag allows, consider carrying a hammer and camp axe.
  15. Emergency blanket.
  16. Miniature towel.
  17. Portable poncho.
  18. Basic first aid kit with bandages, supplies for tourniquets, and other items you have been trained to use in a medical situation.
  19. Food. I pack food for sustainment and morale purposes. In other words, in my kit, you will find food for meals like MREs and other high calorie food meals and morale like snacks and some candies. Anyone who has ever had to eat the same meal over and over again or who has to "stretch" a meal out over a few days knows the power having some variety in between can have on your morale.
  20. Water and purification tablets. The water goes without saying. There could be a situation when you're stuck on site but with limited water options. Having water on hand and having the ability to purify the available water on-site will ensure you're meeting one of the most important survival needs.
  21. Clothes. Ever been on a patrol and got rained on? I have and the impact it has on you physically and mentally is taxing. Physically, you can suffer from hypothermia and all the ugliness associated with that. Mentally, there is nothing better than knowing you can periodically change clothes if needed. Anyone who has ever been rained on during a foot patrol can attest to this.
  22. Boots. See clothes.
  23. Rucksack or versatile tactical bag. The bag you see pictured above is what my wife has deemed my "tactical man-bag". All joking aside, having a good bag to store your gear is of the utmost important. If you don't or can't go with a bag, then I suggest obtaining a pouch wherein you can carry your basic personal survival stuff in a pocket or some other storage compartment. You should test any bag to its limit. My recommendation, if your budget can handle it, buy a rucksack from the folks at GoRuck and evaluate the bag through their course. I have been meaning to do a GoRuck Challenge just for this purpose. No better way to see how your bag holds up other than through some stress. GoRuck puts on challenges that will do just that and give you some idea as to where you stand with another critical survival tool.
  24. Conditioning. I hated this word in high school. It meant long runs and grumpy coaches. It also meant I would be better prepared for whatever the opponents threw at us that season. The same goes with disaster prep. You should be engaging in enough physical activities daily to prepare yourself for situations wherein your body could easily be the leading cause of death. Remember the first rule in the movie Zombieland was Cardio.
  25. Train. The items on this are dependent on the most important tool you always carry with you - your mind. Please, don't buy any of the items on this list unless you feel you can adequately use them to save your life or the lives of others. In other words, if you don't know how to use the tool, find some training to figure it out or practice with the tools until you get it right. These items require the same amount of dedication to master as your firearm or other relevant security tools. 
This list is by no means all-inclusive. I will admit I have missed some very important stuff. However, I think I have covered the basics. Let me know if you have any other items you would suggest security officers carry should they find themselves in a disaster situation.

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