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Merging Preppers and Emergency Management
December 11, 2012
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 These are the blogs related to the one you are about to read:

Doomsday Preppers are Socially Selfish (posted 11/29)

Doomsday Preppers vs Disaster Preppers (posted 12/2)

Doomsday Preppers: Mea Culpa (posted 12/4)

OK, I get it. Preppers Are Not Selfish. I was wrong.  I apologize.  (posted 12/6)

The Case for the Lifestyle Prepper (posted 12/8)

A Short Note From A New Prepper (posted 12/13)

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NOTE:  Last weekend, I wrote a blog about Doomsday Preppers that resulting in an overwhelming number of unfavorable – and ultimately instructive – comments. I apologized and then offered space for preppers to respond.  The first one was from the prepper who’d help me alter my opinions about what I had written.  The next one was from a ‘lifestyle’ prepper with a rural, farming background.  This one is from an emergency manager in Tennessee.

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It seems to me preppers and emergency managers share 90% of the same goals.  We both want strong resilient communities that can respond effectively and recover quickly from disasters of all types.  We both recognize that resources are limited, and that preparation is needed to mitigate the effects of disaster.

The emergency management community has long held that every family needs some level disaster supply – the numbers range from 72 hours to one month of resources.  Preppers have heeded the call, and in large numbers exceeded the recommended supplies because they want to ensure that they are not a burden on an already overworked response network.

In my opinion, both groups of people should learn to work together; such a partnership will benefit both parties.  Emergency managers have long used ham radio operators during large scale disasters.  Ham operators have specialized knowledge, skills, and equipment that is personally owned so that they are not dependent on government infrastructure to communicate.  That sounds a lot like the prepping community, and as a point of fact, many ham radio operators are preppers.

However, one thing that worries emergency managers about preppers (and the public in general) is the problem of unaffiliated volunteers.  Volunteers that spontaneously show up, and begin work without any coordination can complicate response activities, in many cases untrained and underequipped volunteers can become a danger and need rescuing, which takes away from the total emergency response.  Ham Operators have been able to organize pre-disaster and become part of the response team, so that the emergency response incorporates their talents and abilities and makes them a part of the response framework.  They do this by forming groups and then having the group volunteer with the local officials.

Preppers can do the same thing.  I know that if a tree falls on my road, during a disaster, I am likely as not to just dig out my chainsaw and clear it.  I am not going to ask permission; if it needs doing a prepper will probably do it.  That’s how we are.  However, if that clearing activity was part of the coordinated disaster response, then the local government can get “credit” for clearing the road; this credit can be used toward the state’s share of the response costs.  Presidentially Declared disaster allows the federal government to pay a majority of the costs associated with the response and recovery.  Typically that state has to cover 25% of the costs of the disaster; however, much of this can be “in kind” meaning labor and consumables.  When volunteers are used, no money changes hands, but it provides a significant cost savings to local and state governments.  Volunteer work saves local tax dollars, as well as speeds up disaster response, which is a huge win for emergency managers.

In return for this cooperation, preppers can get additional training, experience, and insight into areas of disaster response that may be new to them.  I know that I am a much better prepared citizen because of the training I have received as a part of the governmental response.  If preppers reached out to emergency management, we can lead by example, and begin to be seen as the valuable citizen resource we are. 

If emergency mangers reach out to the prepping community we have a built in group of highly skilled, dedicated, knowledgeable volunteers that have many essential skills and abilities, who have proven themselves responsible, and who do not need much more than coordination and some direction.

We can continue to distrust each other, and allow the 10% differences between us keep us separated, or we can focus on our goals and our commonality and make both groups, as well as our communities, stronger than either of us can do alone.

One thing is certain, disasters will continue to happen, and I for one don’t care if I am called a prepper, or an emergency manager, because I care about ensuring the safety and security of my family, my community, and my state, and no one disagrees about that.

David Nash  (dnash1974@gmail.com)

 

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