Lessons Learned: Building Blocks – Not Grinding Stones

It has started my friends. Rather than seeking to profit from the mistakes made by our nation's emergency response effort, the Republicans and the Democrats are lining up to take cheap shots at each other. But isn't that what politicians do best...


It has started my friends. Rather than seeking to profit from the mistakes made by our nation's emergency response effort, the Republicans and the Democrats are lining up to take cheap shots at each other. But isn't that what politicians do best. Rather than throw a punch at those who already know that they screwed the pooch, it is my intention to share with you what I believe to be some of the hard lessons learned. These are things which should help you.

These lessons have been learned at great expense to many of our nation's citizen's. We owe it to those who stand exposed to the next emergency, and the one after that, to lay out a way in which we can build a better emergency response system. We have to stop romancing the butt of every inept politician and sanctimonious soul in the world of politics.

Let me first stress to you that these lessons need to become the building blocks for future success in the area of emergency response. Sadly, many in our nation have chosen to begin using them as grinding stones to wear down the resolve of those of us who put ourselves in harm's way on behalf of our neighbors. Let me offer you an analysis of where I see things at this time.

The lessons all boil down to one basic fact. When things go from good to bad, every one of you will all be on your own for a period of time. This is one little fact that all of those playing the blame game forgot to remember. However, the way it all played out suggests that the period of time that you will be on your own will be much longer than any of us previously thought.

Let me suggest that the days of waiting for the cavalry to come charging over the hill to our rescue are long past. That analogy comes from a generation of dedicated service no longer to be found in many areas of our government. The Red Tape Merchants, rather than the U.S. Cavalry, responded in great abundance.

If the federal government's initial response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster is any indication, the cavalry mounts are in the shop for repairs, and they seem to have a lack of spare saddle blankets, saddles, and horseshoes. There does appear to be one equine by-product which is in great supply, however I shall leave that to your active imagination. As I read the response, the troopers were ready at many locations, but no one had the will or the authority to issue the cavalry movement orders.

Lesson number one is really simple. However, it is not a lesson readily accepted in our modern, every-person-for-themselves society. We each need to take some responsibility for ourselves and our families. The same holds true for our local fire departments. That is lesson number two. We have to create a level of self-sufficiency for our organizations that does not currently exist in many places.

While there are those who do not have the resources to prepare themselves for future emergencies, most of us have the ability to lay in some supplies to prepare ourselves and our families, just in case things start to go bad. Let me present this at a couple of different levels: The family level and the fire department level.

At the family level we first need to create a cache of food and water. While many of you have a deep distain for canned and dried foods, let me suggest that these can be a real blessing in time of trouble. Most of the federal guidelines I have reviewed suggest that we need to have a minimum of three days' worth of goods for ourselves and our families.

How hard is it to keep a supply of bottled water in our homes? My wife always has a couple of cases in the kitchen for our family's regular use. We it on a daily basis and replace it frequently. Why not toss one extra case in the stash. The recommended amount of water per-person and per-day is one gallon, so you may want to set aside some gallon jugs, just in case.

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