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!:

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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.