Emergency Planning Controversy

Who will save me? Woman in emergency situation.
Who will save me?

There should be no controversy around emergency preparedness, right?


Even from my perspective as a “grass roots organizer,” I’m aware of several levels of controversy in the industry. For people who are serious about preparedness, it’s important to know about them. First of all, let’s look at . . .

Controversy at the individual family level

As you know, at Emergency Plan Guide we try to examine actions people can take that are mostly easily accomplished, not too expensive, and generally considered sensible. We count on most of our neighbors to be on the same wave length.

You can consider this approach as one side of the coin. If you spend any time online, you’ll be presented with the other side.

In contrast to the “neighborly” approach, this side is held by people who anticipate and make plans for significant societal upheavals, invest in self-defense including weapons and ammunition, and often don’t trust neighbors at all.

Where do you fit in this controversy?

Controversy at the First Responder level

We have always promoted the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training that is provided in many communities, at little or no cost. It gives citizens basic knowledge about how to protect themselves and their neighbors in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Everyone who has taken CERT training has found it worthwhile and really appreciates the effort put into the training by the fire and police departments.

I hear from multiple sources, however (mostly online discussion groups, and some face-to-face conversations) that some trained First Responders wish the CERT people would just “get out of the way and leave us to do our job.” I have even heard recently of CERT budgets being raided by professional First Responders to meet their own departmental desires.

Controversy at the National level

Since the fiasco of Katrina under Mike Brown, FEMA has been headed up by people with actual emergency management background. But the agency hasn’t had a smooth ride over the past few years, with hundreds of declared emergencies. Brock Long, Administrator from June 2017 until February of this year, seemed to handle Hurricane Harvey pretty well, but FEMA’s response to Maria was widely criticized as slow and inadequate.

The latest development – two new Acting Administrators.

While FEMA leadership seems willing to deal with whatever hits the country next, we can’t count on it being effective, thanks to politics. President Trump delayed providing aid to victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico for a number of different political (and apparently some personal) reasons. When fires burst out in California in 2018, Trump incorrectly blamed the fires on “poor forest management” and threatened to withhold disaster relief. (He conveniently overlooked the fact that over half the forests in California are under federal land management.)

Because national leadership has suggested more than once that some Americans are worthy of response and relief, but OTHERS ARE NOT WORTHY, the entire federal emergency management program becomes suspect.

What is the answer?

From my perspective, all we can do is take on the responsibility for our own safety. We can all make an effort to become better prepared and better trained, build stronger relationships, and be ready to protect ourselves and our neighbors in an emergency.

That’s the posture Joe and I take, and that so many of our Emergency Plan Guide readers seem to take, too.

Depending on someone else may be ill-advised.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

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