Saturday, August 29, 2009

Disability and Prepping

"Not every prepper is a 20-something who jogs daily, hits the gym four days per week and mountaineers at every opportunity. Some preppers have too many family obligations to hit the iron pile at will. Some are middle aged or elderly. Still others are disabled.

How to deal with such people? Rawles excellent book, Patriots, Surviving the Coming Collapse, describes a prepper group who are all able bodied and fit 30-somethings. Some prepper pundits advise one and all to avoid getting entangled with such “liabilities” as disabled or elderly people.

But consider this, generally, the disabled and the elderly have an important psychological edge over the buff 20-somethings of popular disaster films and books. They are used to having to problem solve their way through days filled with obstacles, such as no curb cut or difficulties in manipulating machinery with poor vision. So the disabled do have something to add to a prepper group, as do the elderly. Just to the best of their ability, not necessarily in every area of work the able bodied members might want.

The disabled are rarely considered in community disaster plans or exercises. We generally don't think that the disabled can contribute positively post-disaster but it can be done. We just have to work around their particular disability. With the deaf, remember that "lip reading" does not work all that well and in deaf culture, detailed explanations are expected. With those with mobility problems, give due consideration to barriers to their movement. When evacuating the disabled, the "leave everything behind" rule of evacuation does not apply. Make sure to take vital meds, medical equipment and adaptive aids (reachers, bed etriers, etc.). With a little extra thought, the disabled can help out and be vital members of a survivalist/prepper group.

Sure, you would be a fool to think that the paraplegic in your group can help split wood. But that person could certainly be a medic or quartermaster for the group. I was in a wheelchair, off and on, for over one and a half years; my computer, medical, and organizational skills were still there. I just ambulated using a vehicle instead of walking on my legs. If there had been a disaster, I was ready, willing, and able to pitch in to help. It is the same generally in the disabled community. Self sufficiency is highly valued, problem solving proficiency is constantly honed, there is always a strong undercurrent of wanting to contribute to the situation or community. But, as in the general population, many don't think about prepping.

At some disaster scenes, the disabled and elderly are treated as “automatic casualties”, to be immediately shuttled off to “medical care” areas. The key rule of etiquette in the disabled community, and by extension amongst the elderly, is that the person will ask for help if they need it but they will nearly always want to try to do it themselves initially. It is considered an insult for an able bodied person to press unsolicited offers of help on the disabled person. The Americans with Disability Act may have been stupidly misused in the past, but it was passed so that the disabled in this country would gain the basic respect for their capabilities that the able bodied take for granted.

I have done classes for disabled resource organizations before where no one in the class could move without mobility aids and with several blind or deaf persons. For example, the blind can do CPR, they just have to rely on tactile and auditory cues without visual cues. Paraplegics can give first aid, even if it means leaving their chair and crawling to the injured person. And it is true; if you lose one sense, the others become sharper in compensation.

Post disaster, we will all need all the help we can get. Study how the disabled and elderly can contribute to your and your group's survival post-SHTF. Think this through ahead of time, be better prepared for when the balloon goes up.

Here is a link to a group, Disabled People and Disaster Planning, that has been around for several years. Their site has some good short articles on planning for the disabled in disaster protocols. Eye opening stuff!:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Radio Communications Article

Very good new post at West Virginia Preppers Network on radio communications protocols. I learned a great deal from this post that should help dealing with radio communications in the Helena Valley. For those who don't know our situation here, the "public radio" bands (GMRS, CB, and FRS) are often rendered useless by incessant chatters, kidz, and those who don't know how to use a radio properly. We shiver to think of what would happen come a disaster here as our public safety agencies rely on a single relay point, using 2meter radio. This will leave preppers on their own to maintain communications ad hoc. The information given in this article will help make our SHTF communication more likely to succeed .

Read it, please comment so this guy, Falcon 9N, will continue to share his store of knowledge. Here is a link to his article. Plan before you press transmit, be brief, use good radio practices.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Psychological First Aid

So the earthquake has ended in your town, the dust has settled, you and your family are still alive and uninjured. But your area is out of contact with the rest of the state for at least 48 hours. You, and others, go round, giving medical first aid, mark structures in accordance with good CERT practice, you shelter in place. But some people in your area are in seemingly severe mental crisis; some are hyperactive and get in your way constantly, a few others just sit there in spite of the bitter cold, still others are disruptive and complaining constantly. What can you do?

Learning some psychological first aid is as important as learning CPR and [medical] first aid. It is simple and is mostly common sense. It can be important as victims of psychological distress can endanger you and your group; extremely rarely by assaulting, mostly by getting in the way (often from the best of motives) or being a "drain" on scarce resources.

The way I learned it way back when was as the Four Rs; a model used for dealing with combat stress:
R emove (from stressful environment); can be as simple as blocking their view of the scene
R est
R eplenish; food, water, etc. , unless contraindicated by injuries, etc.
R estore (their confidence/"to duty"); treat them as if you expect them to recover, no "labels".

This is about as simple as it gets; give immediate care to help keep the person's condition from worsening, reduce the risk of their condition worsening, provide reassurance, punt ASAP to qualified personnel if the person does not improve. I have successfully used this model post-earthquake, at accident scenes, and once with victim of a sexual assault.

Remember that people react to emergencies in their own way; some "rise to the challenge" and do what has to be done, then, maybe "it hits them" and they experience some anxiety or "shut down". Others react with hysterics, still others shut down with the "thousand yard stare". Take them as you find them, deal with what you see, just use common sense. And remember, people in crisis, especially children, take their cues from you: model competence and calm, be systematic, smile.

Here are a few suggested readings for you to learn how to deal with this important aspect of post-disaster and survival situation care:

(Book) Where there is No Psychiatrist; Very well written, easy to understand and apply. Covers all aspects of psychological well being, excellent chapter on disaster/war trauma. Good shelf companion for your copies of Where there is no Doctor and Where there is No Dentist.

(online document) Psychological First Aid...; Medical Reserve Corp: Step by step guide to providing basic psychological first aid. Gives very good examples to illustrate the concepts being described.

(online document) Psychological First Aid Heath Care Professionals; NY Office of Mental Health: Brief outline of principles of care in the context of a flu pandemic.

(online document) Psychological First Aid ; American Mental health Counselors Association: Technical article on various early intervention strategies. Good,short, discussion of critical incident stress debriefing (CISD), one of the "touchstones" of the field of early intervention which does not seem to work.
Montana Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Montana Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.