We’ve regularly discussed emergency response when the SHTF and have generally come to the conclusion that when the time comes that you need help, it won’t be available.
This latest story from California highlights how austerity measures are already having an impact on Americans’ lives, and it’s only going to get worse.
Residents of Alameda, Calif., an island city just east of San Francisco, are demanding answers after a man drowned at a city beach in full view of police and fire personnel.
Witnesses say an apparently distraught Raymond Zack, 53, paced back and forth along the beach just before noon on Memorial Day. He then waded into the frigid San Francisco Bay.
Zack stood about 50 yards offshore in neck-deep water for about an hour before his head disappeared below the water. Police and firefighters who had responded to a 911 call about the suicide attempt stood onshore watching and making no attempt to rescue or even contact Zack.
Interim Alameda Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi said a 2009 policy forbids firefighters from trying to rescue people in the water.
“Previously we had a very highly trained water-rescue program that we could use for both shore-based and boat-and-surf water rescue,” he said. “But unfortunately, over the course of several years based on what I gather on budget issues, they pretty much decertified the program.”
Reader Jim, who submitted this story to us, had this to say:
It could very well depend on what policies and training they have had, or want to certify. In this very case a 93 man City Fire Department had its personnel in place for some 40 minutes, and did nothing to save a man killing himself a slow death. There were apparently police officers present who did nothing as well. In fact the NPR report cited says they never even tried to reach the man or communicate with him. A volunteer waded into the 54 degree water alone to recover the man’s body once in floated to the top. A fire department could not even do that.
This should give pause for those of you planning to “bug in” when SHTF. Just how much protection can you count on from your local police and fire? In this case a fire department spokesman said they didn’t have the equipment or training. Do you think they have what it takes to handle a mob? Or how about a gang setting a block of houses on fire. My guess is the police might bug out before you do if SHTF.
If you do decide to bug in, or even bug out, when it hits the fan, you must be fully prepared to manage emergencies on your own or within your local neighborhood and community. This includes food supplies, clean water, medical care and personal defense.
FEMA, on their preparedness web site, recommends that every family have at least two weeks worth of food and water. They fail to mention medical supplies (including antibiotics) because they may be under the impression that a localized disaster response can be organized within fourteen days.
Our view: Expect the unexpected. Region-wide or nationwide disaster planning is in order here. Rather than two weeks, plan on months without any outside assistance. Emergency personnel, as Jim mentioned, will probably be the first to bug out – they have families too and will see the writing on the wall before most other people do. Those emergency responders who do stick around will likely be deployed in support of military actions like riot response.