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The Home Emergency Pocket Guide from Informed: Perfect for Preparedness at all levels!

I've been using Informed field guides for EMS for years and just recently received a copy of the Home Emergency Pocket Guide. Of all the guides and documents I've reviewed in the last few years, this one takes first place.

One of the most frequent questions I get when it comes to disaster preparedness is "where do I start!?" The problem is that those who actually take personal and family readiness seriously can be easily overwhelmed by the amount of material available...even the most motivated of people can find themselves spinning without clear direction. The Home Emergency Pocket Guide provides that clear direction in a easy-to-understand format that allows for reference and repetition as well as planning.

I read the guide cover to cover several times and found it easy to use and written so anyone, from citizen to CERT member to experienced responder can quickly get potential life saving information on everything from planning to first aid. Covering natural disasters, hazardous materials, terrorism and recovery, this guide takes the All-Hazards approach.

I was hooked by page 4: "...preparedness experts have cautioned civilians for decades to take the necessary precautions to help themselves in times of catastrophe. And yet, many of us do not. " We believe it will happen to someone else: we suffer from Optimism Bias - In fact recent data suggests that only 6-7% of the public has done any planning or preparation for disaster or crisis. The Home Emergency Pocket Guide walks you through in a logical direction, the path to being aware and prepared for numerous situations.

The section on first aid is formatted for quick reference and easy recall. ABC'S, CPR, medical emergencies and trauma situations are all covered. Some not-so-common situations are included as you may need to be self reliant in disaster or survival situations. There is even guides for biological agents such as smallpox, botulism, cholera, and anthrax.

The first rule in any emergency is to stop and think. The Home Emergency Pocket Guide provides the foundation for your preparedness efforts. The more prepared the public...the better the responders can help! Even the most experianced responder can benefit from this guide, giving piece of mind that your family knows what to do while you're responding to crisis

Check out my commentary on the Home Emergency Pocket Guide on the June 16, 2008 edition of Mitigation Journal: The All Hazards Podcast. Watch for a special offer from Informed and Mitigation Journal soon!

Thinking about Ambulance Safety

While at a recent emergency services exhibit, I noticed one of the most interesting ambulance designs...
This ambulance from the Premier Line was set up for a side loading gurney. Rather than the traditional rear load, this ambulance has two side doors and can load the gurney from each side. The patient rides across the width of the vehicle while the crew is seated in either front or rear facing seats. You can check out the full description on the North Eastern Rescue Vehicles here.
Below are a few shots I took of this ambulance as well as a few video clips from the NHTSA. I don't have any proof or test data that shows this side load configuration is any safer than the tradition design, but after watching the videos...I'll try anything. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

This is the passenger side of the ambulance. Notice that the crew member is in a forward facing seat.

Again, from the passenger side; notice the sliding door on the drivers side and the gurney loading track in the middle.

These video clips are from YouTube...certainly something to think about!

In Search of Preparedness in America

We've seen devastating examples of natural disasters all over the world. Here in the United States the number and severity of storms has seemed to increase along with the the death toll. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is reporting that 2008 is shaping up to be one of the worst years for severe weather. Given the combination of terrorist attacks and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina as well as other storms around the world you'd think we (the public) would be paying attention. In fact, with all the dollars spent on domestic preparedness/homeland security, you'd think we would be ready for anything.

Don't believe everything you think.

A number of recent studies have indicated that the public is not prepared to provide self-help in times of crisis or natural disaster. In fact, the data suggests that much of our population is hanging onto the "it can't happen to me" mentality or, worse, is misinformed as to the potential life threatening situations that they may face.

From volcanoes in Hawaii to storms chewing up the mid-west, we've seen Mother Nature dish out some of the worst conditions since Katrina. Mainstream media has brought cataclysmic earthquakes in China into our living rooms and we watch with some disbelief...yet, it can't happen to us. The unfortunate fact is that "it" can happen to us and all the funding in the world can't buy a preparedness mindset.

Recent surveys indicate that our population is overwhelmingly complacent towards preparedness...lacking preparedness plans, survival food and water, or a basic awareness about the potential hazards in their region. Governments seem to have lacked the stamina to keep up with preparedness as well. Even those regions who have planed and practiced for disaster situations will find themselves fighting an uphill battle. One report cited 93% of Americans are not prepared to be self-sufficient for any crisis. How can any response community expect to assist a population where only 6-7% of a population has any capability to help themselves? Here's an everyday example: Your car is low on gas; what do you do? By looking at your cars gas gauge, you can estimate when and how much fuel you'll need. You simply drive to the gas station and fill up...that's taking care of yourself. What if we were to apply the "it won't happen to me" mindset or what I call Optimism Bias to the situation. Simply put, no need for a gas car won't run out of fuel...and if it does, someone will come and fill it up for me.

The idea that "someone" will come to the rescue is a far cry from the Cold War mentality of bomb shelters and Civil Defense. Although rescue may come, it may not be for days. The idea is for every community to encourage residents to establish their own self sufficiency plan.