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Front Page » March 20, 2003 » Local News » Develop emergency survival response action plans, procedures
Published 4,234 days ago

Develop emergency survival response action plans, procedures


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter


In addition to stocking 72-hour survival kits for family members, officials recommend equipping frequently used vehicles with the emergency items. In most disasters, it generally takes about three days for help to arrive in an area.

Families in the United States could be facing a different world. While the spectre of the 9-11 attacks have hung over Americans' heads for the last year and a half, the fear and reality of the events has re-emerged with the second Gulf War ready to get underway and the Homeland Security administration raising the alert to the second highest level.

Set at orange, the current alert level seems more realistic based on government information. It has been reported that the government has fairly specific information about possible attacks with the pending war as a background, and that is the reason for the increase in security. Local authorities are prepared, but they always seem to be.

"The fact is, with the orange alert, things don't change much for us," indicated Carbon County Sheriff James Cordova. "We are almost always on heightened alert anyway."

Carbon and Emery counties have places that could be targets of terrorism. It is expected that terrorists would want to do two things: disrupt the economy of the United States and kill as many Americans as possible.

Castle Valley area is not prime for killing a lot of people since there are only a little more than 30,000 people living in the two counties combined and population is very spread out. However, there are some local targets to disrupt the economy.

Power plants are probably the number one concern most people have, but the gas fields and coal mining operations are also potential targets. In addition, Carbon County has a major railroad line and a ground transportation system running through it. All the things need to be considered.

"During the time of these alerts, we do pay a more attention to the power plants and the gas wells," stated Cordova. "That's just part of doing our job."

Emergency planning has been going on at the state and county level for a long time, but government can only do so much for citizens. Families and individuals need to make preparations and develop plans for emergencies, not only in the case of possible terrorist attacks, but also in terms of natural disasters. Planning can make the difference between surviving well and merely surviving, between being injured or not being injured and between living and possibly dying.

Local and state officials indicate that the first thing to do is for families to talk about disaster plans. Defining what a family is, in this case, may be difficult. It can be one person who lives alone or a group of people with extended friends and family members spread across the two counties. So the first thing to do is to define who would be involved in any kind of disaster preparedness or plans.

A family may have many ties with which the members are concerned. A couple may have a married son with a wife who has her parents and their parents to worry about. A daughter may be engaged and have a boyfriend whom she would be concerned about, while he is worried about his family. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, grandchildren are all considerations.

Disaster can strike with or without warning, so planning and preparations must be made in advance. Terrorism is different than natural disasters in that the incidents can occur in many ways without warning. It is a type of disaster that is more unpredictable than an earthquake.

Terrorism can also occur in many forms. It could be a bomb at the corner gas station or a chemical or biological attack that spreads over an area. It could include acts of sabotage that could lead to widespread misery, such as derailing a train carrying chlorine gas or knocking out power systems in selective spots so the grid could not be repaired for days.

Since no one can predict what may happen, it is best to prepare families for general emergencies and cope with the specifics at the time of the disaster. That means family members must plan to be flexible owing to the circumstances.

Four points are important to consider, according to the experts.

First, what kind of disaster could happen in Castle Valley? With terrorism that is difficult to predict, but more than likely the local area would be affected by outside events such as transportation disruptions or power outages.

Disruption of transportation systems could mean a shortage of food and supplies because almost all of what is brought into the county is by truck.

Residents should plan to have storage and realize that electricity is not vital to everyday survival unless medical or life support equipment is involved.

Next is knowing the warning signals. Most people rely on electronics for disaster alerts: television, radio, the Internet or the phone, cell or land line.

However, many communities also have other means of warning people, including a siren that may have various types of blasts for different kinds of emergencies.

Family 72-hour survival kits
Authorities recommended including the following items in emergency preparedness kits:
•One gallon of water per day per person
•Water purification tablets
•Extra supply of vital medications
•$100 in small bills (no electricity, no banks)
•Extra gasoline for vehicle (5 gallons, no electricity, no pumps)
•Space heater and fuel (no electricity, no furnace)
•A good first aide kit and manual to go with it
•Can opener and plastic utensils.
•Non-perishable food not requiring cooking
•Good folding knife and 100 foot rope
•Temporary shelter (tarps or small tent)
•Personal hygiene products
•Flashlight and radio (battery powered or preferably kinetically charged)
•Blankets or sleeping bags
•Waterproof matches and container
•Sewing kit and tweezers
•Aspirin, Benedryl, Ipecac, baking soda, salt
•Rubbing alcohol, laxatives and antidiarrheal medicine
•Folding shovel
•Axe or hatchet
•Candles/coleman lantern
•Plastic buckets, large plastic bags and ties
•Tin foil, scissors, safety pins
•Warm extra clothing and underwear
•Light weight games for children
•Signalling mirror
•Pet supplies
•Optional folding toilet

Personal kits should include items needed for the individual. The items should be packaged in a five gallon container with a lid or in a backpack so the kits can be quickly picked up and transported.

The siren in Price that blows daily at 10 p.m., for instance, is a remnant of the cold war when bomb shelters existed in many public buildings.

The shelters are gone, but the siren could serve the community in time of disaster.

"If that siren goes off and doesn't stop, people need to turn their radios on and listen to what is going on," advised Dennis Dooley, civil defense and disaster preparedness manager for Carbon County. "That's how it would be used."

Locally, residents should tune to 750 on the AM radio dial for emergency instructions.

People also need to consider family members who may be disabled or elderly and need special care or items to survive an emergency.

Family planners need to take into account medications or equipment that would be needed for in case the individuals must be evacuated.

People in a family also need to know about emergency plans at their workplace, what the protocols will be for children at schools or day care centers and other places that family members are at on a regular basis.

Finally, residents with pets must decide how the animals will be handled in an emergency situation. Some people have many animals that must be taken care of and fed.

The key to resolve the matter is to create a family disaster plan. Members should meet as a family, understand the need for the planning and preparation and discuss likely scenarios.

Two important things to do with the family is to create a 72-hour survival kit and make plans on how to meet after a disaster, according to the experts.

Many people have taken up the call for a 72-hour survival kit. The idea is based on the fact that, in most disasters, it generally takes about three days for help to arrive in an area.

Some companies have developed kits for customers to purchase.

However, the kits offered by the companies are not always the best answer for individuals.

"Manufactured 72-hour kits have some very good things in them, but people need to remember that not every family or person is the same," noted Dooley. "Everyone has different needs so kits need to be personalized."

Putting kits together for every member of the family is a very good idea.

The kits are good to have if evacuations must take place and people have to leave their homes or if individuals become stranded in vehicles somewhere.

Lists for what should be in a 72- hour kit abound in books and on the Internet and range in size from a dozen items to a hundred.

However, it is a good idea to have a survival kit packaged for every individual in the family in a backpack or a bag people can carry or in a five-gallon plastic sealable bucket.

It is also a good idea to keep kits in the vehicle the individual uses or rides in the most so it is available when and where the items are needed.

"People don't realize that they may not be at home when disaster strikes and they may not be able to get home to pick up such a kit," stated Dooley.

The other thing a family needs to do is to develop an emergency communications plan.

During a disaster, there is a chance the whole family will not be together.

More than likely, the family members will be spread out, possibly across the two-county area or the entire state.

Disasters tend to separate family members.

Phones go down, power is out, radios and CBs become jammed with traffic.

Families should pick a spot where members can meet after a disaster and plans need to be made on how to get children to parents.

"A disaster can create chaos," pointed out Dooley. " A number of years ago, two planes collided over the western Salt Lake Valley and much of the wreckage fell on school yards in the area. Parents flocked to the schools to get their kids and emergency vehicles could not get through to help victims. People need to talk to their schools about their protocols for disasters."

Families also need to talk about evacuations and the possibility that some members may be evacuated differently and to different areas than others, depending where they are when an event happens.

With communications often in disarray, locally it is often hard to contact others in the family or to get good information about others from authorities.

To resolve the potential problems, a contact person from out of town could be set up as a central clearing house for information.

Often during disasters, telephone systems will operate for long distance calls but not for local ones.

By selecting an individual residing outside the immediate area, family members can call the contact person and find out how the others are faring.


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